Israeli singer proves surprise hit in Yemen

Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:08am EST
 
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By Yoav Appel

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli singer has become an unlikely star in Yemen, an Arab country where his hit songs blare from cafes and taxis.

Zion Golan's parents were born in Yemen, but like other Israelis, he is banned from travelling to the conservative Muslim nation, which has no diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Known in Yemen as Ziyan Joulan, his songs - whose Arabic lyrics are written by his mother-in-law - are distributed on bootleg CDs and downloaded from the Internet.

"Yemeni music is in my heart and in my soul," Golan told Reuters.

"My big dream is to go to Yemen. My parents told me many stories about Yemen, about Sanaa, about Aden, all about Yemen, so I felt it was right to write, to perform songs in a Yemeni style, which I feel is part of me."

In Sanaa, Waddah Othman, a doctor, grinned as he displayed an array of Golan's songs on his mobile phone.

"I adore this singer," he said.

Abdullah al-Haj, who owns a video and music shop in Sanaa, said music of Yemeni Jewish singers was in high demand by local youngsters, who increasingly are getting music off the Internet.   Continued...

 
Israeli singer Zion Golan (R) performs at a wedding celebration in the southern town of Netivot February 10, 2014. REUTERS/Amir Cohen