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Monday, Aug. 3, 2009

Magical Storytelling at Arab World Fest

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No need to say "open sesame" to enter an enchanted world of magicians, djinns and flying carpets at Arab World Fest this weekend. Simply walk into the storytellers' tent for a magical ride through One Thousand and One Nights.

Also called The Arabian Nights, the book is a compilation of fables and folk tales from ancient Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Asia Minor, Persia and India dating back as far as A.D. 800. Arab World Fest visitors can read the stories and histories, view paintings and 3-D art illustrating the tales and listen to the storytellers. The exhibit is designed to appeal to all ages.

"Every year it becomes more of an attraction, so we keep building on it," says Ihsan Atta, Arab World Fest president. "We set up the art and present the stories so you're taken through different places and periods of time."

Yet these stories are timeless. The tales of Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba are familiar to most, but also among the 1,001 intriguing titles are "The Enchanted Horse," "The King's Son and the Ogress," and "Wardan the Butcher's Adventure With the Lady and the Bear."

The stories are framed within the tale of Shahrazad, a young woman newly married to a Persian king who weds a different woman each day, only to have her executed the next morning. Shahrazad survives not only the first day of her marriage but at least a thousand more by telling a new cliffhanger to the king every night. Her expert weaving of plots and characters, of histories, tragedies and comedies keeps the king rivetedand Shahrazad alive. Her storytelling power has never waned. More than 1,000 years later, TheArabian Nights continues to enchant and enliven.

Arab World Fest begins 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7, at Henry W. Maier Festival Park and runs through 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9.

Photos are available through Flickr: Here's one example from last year's storytellers' tent:

2009-08-03