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Tuesday Aug 30 2022
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Rahat Fateh Ali fills London arena, sings for flood victims

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan singing at O2 Arena in London, United Kingdom, on August 29, 2022. — Photo by author
Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan singing at O2 Arena in London, United Kingdom, on August 29, 2022. — Photo by author

LONDON: Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan delivered a mesmerising performance to a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Arena and also appealed for funds to help the victims of floods in Pakistan.

This was Khan’s third performance at the iconic London venue since he started performing globally over 10 years ago after signing up exclusively with Salman Ahmed — his producer and global promoter.

Khan called on Pakistan’s showbiz community to urgently come together and start raising funds for the victims of floods who have been left with nothing.

“Pakistan is surrounded by a natural disaster of the kind and size Pakistan has never seen before. I appeal to the artist community to help those who have been left with poverty and helplessness only. They need our help," he appealed.

Nearly 20,000 people attended the show to full capacity on a day when famous Indian singer Neha Kakar was performing in London just a few miles away at the Wembley Arena.

Most of those who attended Rahat’s show were Indians, followed by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

Ahmed, Khan's producer and global promoter whose company PME manages the maestro, said he was thrilled that a milestone of 10 years has been achieved, bringing glory to Pakistan and one of its biggest talents who has made a huge market from South Asia to the international stage.

Ahmed said that people keep coming back to listen to Khan because of the constant variations, innovations and fusions that are produced in every tour.

“We have all evolved and our relationship has grown within our team and with the audience. Look at the fusion that we add to every show for at least half of the duration. That has brought a whole new segment to our events because Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali does it so brilliantly.”

Ahmed said that diaspora South Asians wait for Khan’s tours and keep asking for more.

He said that qawwalis were popular in all sections of Asians and Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and others are drawn to qawwalis to gain spiritual satisfaction and this genre is an essential element of Rahat’s shows.

He recalled how it has been a great journey working with Khan for over 10 years.

“We did our first concert with Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan in Wembley Arena in 2012 and since then we have been selling in the UK and across the world non-stop. It's been a phenomenal journey."

"A lot of hard work and team effort goes into the work of managing and delivering at the global level for a global audience to the global standards. We have been successful because we work professionally and we are all on the same page,” the producer and global promoter said.

Khan introduced his son Shah Zaman Ali Khan at the O2 Arena to the audience as his new band member.

A sold-out crowd attends Ustad Rahat Fateh Alis musical night at O2 Arena in London, United Kingdom, on August 29, 2022. — Provided by our correspondent
A sold-out crowd attends Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali's musical night at O2 Arena in London, United Kingdom, on August 29, 2022. — Provided by our correspondent

Ahmed said: “Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali is following the old tradition of Pakistani Qawwals. His brother Wajahat Ali Khan and now his son Shah Zaman Ali Khan also perform with him at all concerts.”

To make the journey memorable, the producer said he was planning to launch a global tour in 2024 where Ali Khan will set a new record by playing with a 100-piece symphony orchestra.

“That requires a lot of devotion and hard work, and we have already started working on that project. We will make new history and will set new precedents for South Asian music.”

Khan was introduced to Bollywood in Mahesh Bhatt’s movie Paap and performed on stage for the first time in 1998 at a benefit concert in Los Angeles, and as they say, the rest is history.

Khan has now captured the hearts of millions worldwide and continues to mesmerise audiences with his melodious voice and Sufi music. He has had award-winning hits with films such as Dabaang, My name is Khan, Son of Sardar and many more. 

He has been honoured with the Award for Best Music Talent in a Film at the 14th London Music Festival in 2012, the Award for Best Male Playback Singer at the 2011 Filmfare Awards and the Award for Best Singer Male at the Pakistan Media Awards in 2011. 

Ahmed is one of the most experienced and respected Asian art promoters. His alliance with the showbiz started some 34 years ago when he started organizing Bhangra nights and small British Asian concerts.

That was the time when British Asian singers started making their mark. The BBC covered one of Ahmed's first concerts at the time.

There was no social media and no Asian channels around. The BBC aired a report then to showcase how the second generation of British Asians was growing with a fusion of British and Asian cultures.