With the growing role of commodification in all cultures, we can easily characterize life today as commercial and consumerist. Sadly, this has blurred the lines between fine art, low culture and mass production. The development of this paradigm has meant that the survival of “fine” art is at stake.
Our society often undervalues the importance of earning a living through our passions; as a result, most young Egyptian musicians fall by the wayside or end up pursuing careers they do not enjoy.
Founded by Dr. Mona Zaki and her two daughters Dalia and Lily Farid, “Soft Power Productions” is a company committed to reviving the glorious and rich history of arts in Egypt. By supporting young artists and the culture of our community, SPP provides talented musicians with the opportunity to venture into the world of art and figure out how to thrive.
“The idea behind the company was simple: to help under-recognized artists build substantial audiences and receive local and international offers. I hate to see such talented musicians give up their passions. Also, art is not just a tool of creative expression, but rather a prime platform for cultural exchange and public diplomacy. It provides infinite social and political benefits, and if this discipline is neglected, Egypt may fall behind. A nation without art, is a nation without a soul,” says Zaki.
Their First Year
Although only one year old, SPP’s 2016-2017 season has witnessed exceptional artistic endeavors of 15 main events: ten concerts, two recitals, two master classes (held by the renowned artist Dr. Farid Fadel), a Bollywood workshop and a first of its kind, large-scale Arabic musical titled “Leila”.
“The 2017-2018 season will include more international exposure. We will be managing and executing the opening ceremony of the World Congress of Int’l Federation for Business & Professional Women that will take place at the Sound and Light Pyramids platform and will be attended by more than 700 international professional and leading business women from all over the world,” explains Zaki.
Abydos Symphony Orchestra
SPP established its own orchestra, Abydos Symphony Orchestra, which is composed of approximately 50 young musicians.
The Orchestra collaborates with different individuals and groups, including Awtar String Quartet, The Cairo Guitar Collective and Al Nour Wal Amal Orchestra, which is an exceptional association across time and space, as it is the only orchestra in the world providing free education and vocational training to more than 300 visually impaired women.
Dr. Zaki’s Family and the Arts
Dr. Zaki is the Founder and CEO of Global Strategic Consultants (GSC), an expert in strategic thinking and international marketing and an active participant in various local and international conferences and panels that discuss strategic plans to meet the economic and social challenges in Egypt and the region. Zaki is currently the Financial Times business consultant in Egypt and Founder and Managing Director of Art & Business International (ABI).
In 2016, she established Obelisk Group for Stone Technology with three professional businessmen, which offers high quality of Egyptian marble and granite to international markets, and was selected as one of ten Coptic icons to be featured in a book titled “Roadmap to Success: Inspiring Journeys of Ten Iconic Coptic Leaders” in the same year.
Dalia is the first Arab student to graduate with honors from the Royal Academy of Music’s Musical Theatre Masters’ program, UK in 2014. She is a theatre all-rounder, singer, actress and choreographer who wants to tell stories by intertwining music, drama and dance.
“Dance, drama and music are separately very powerful art forms. Imagine bringing them together in the context of a musical, where the effect is simply tripled,” she mentions.
After finishing her political science degree at the American University in Cairo (AUC), Dalia realized that art is a universal language and is extremely effective in creating cross-cultural dialogue and global harmony. She has performed in Egypt with Fabrica, the Egyptian Musical Theatre Company, the Egyptian Philharmonic Society, The Alexandria Library Orchestra, as well as internationally at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland, the St. James Theatre in London and Egyptian Embassies in Paris and London.
Similarly, Lily’s passion for music drives everything she does. Since her school years, she has been chosen to sing as a soloist in different concerts and high-level events. Lily was able to nourish her talents by taking professional classes at the AUC with voice professor, Dr. Neveen Allouba for two consecutive years (2011-2012), while completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. In 2014, she moved to Spain to study International Business, Latin Rhythmic Dance and Music at Saint Louis University, then returned to graduate from AUC with honors.
“In Madrid, I studied with Guðrún Jóhanna Ólafsdóttir, a prominent Icelandic mezzo-soprano, where I was able to really expand my vocal range, but even more importantly, it helped me truly discover my identity as an artist. Great opportunities do not come every day and the best part is you never know where they will take you,” says Lily.
Dr. Zaki’s husband and the father of the two talented girls, Farid Fadel, was lucky enough to inherit the three talents that his family is famous for. Not only is he an award winning artist, but also a practising eye doctor and an esteemed, dedicated musician who plays the guitar and piano.
The mother-daughter team cherishes the time they get to spend together to grow Soft Power Productions. They have become each other’s inspiration and support.
“The trust bond is amazing because no one will ever care for you as much as your mom and sister. We usually end up taking work back home though, so the line between our personal and professional life gets blurred, but it is still a lot of fun,” adds Dalia.
Complementing each other’s strength, they have come to believe in the rewards of working together. They each believe in the power of music to change the world.
“The three of us have the same code of values – on both the personal and professional level. This is the blessing of working with my two daughters. The love is unconditional, and this is one thing that remains constant, whether at home or in the office,” concludes Dr. Zaki.