British rock star Sting faced the wrath of local singing star Hakim and a disgruntled crowd at a rock concert at Egypt's Giza pyramids.
The organisers introduced Sting after a break of 90 minutes in the programme, to the irritation of a crowd at the ancient resting place of the Pharaohs who had been expecting to see their local hero take the stage an hour earlier.
Hakim promptly burst onto the set, protesting loudly that it was his turn to sing, but the organisers would not let him. “Whoever is willing to accept the insult of an Egyptian in Egypt can stay. Goodbye!” he snapped as he stormed off.
As parts of the audience responded to his suggestion that local talent was being scorned in favour of big foreign names, chanting “Hakim! Hakim!”, the concert ground to a halt once more amid feverish backstage negotiations.
Only when the organisers finally explained that Hakim had failed to turn up on time for his allotted slot did the crowd calm down.
Finally Sting, promoting his latest album, Brand New Day, did get an enthusiastic reception for a set including his global hit Desert Rose, performed with Algerian Rai star Cheb Mami.
Organisers said 10% of ticket receipts would go to the British charity Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Archaeologists have in the past complained that musical performances, particularly rock concerts, may damage the 4,600-year-old pyramids.
This article was first published by Reuters on 26 April 2001.