After an introductory stint in Muscat, Al Naseem International Circus has begun pitching tent in Salalah to enthrall visitors at the ensuing Khareef Festival
The lights dimmed…the music stopped…and there was pin-drop silence as a batch of seven lions entered the caged arena in the centre of the stage, their spine-chilling roars punctuating the eerie tranquility within the tent.
Adults sat on edge, mothers grabbed hold of their infants and the ushers moved in from the exit points to ensure that nobody moved from their seats. You are in the midst of the most fascinating act of Al Naseem International Circus, and suddenly, even the sound of crunching popcorn seems a disturbance.
The ringmaster – a towering, burly professional from Iran – then took charge and entertained the audience with some awesome acts performed by the wild cats at the crack of his whip. He made them shuffle around in endearing formations and do impressive acrobats as the audience took delight in their amber coats and majestic manes, while the tent momentarily abounded with their musky body odour and ferocious demeanour.
The lion act was tucked towards the middle section of this two-hour circus which had a brief halt in Muscat last week before it proceeded to Salalah where regular shows will begin in a fortnight’s time to coincide with the Khareef Festival revelry. But, the organisers assure, that the show will return to Muscat after entertaining people in Salalah.
Diverse performers, thrilling acts
Photos: V K Shafeer
The circus comprises a range of entertaining acts performed by a diverse team of professionals hailing from seven different countries, including Iran, Portugal, Colombia, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, and Pakistan.
While the highlight of the show is the lion act, the circus comprised a diverse range of acts to appeal to all age groups. The first act showcased an impressive Chinese pole balancing act followed by stupendous trapeze and aerial acts, with soft hues of lilac and crimson, and lilting background scores, filling the tent with an atmosphere of sheer awe.
While the audience weren’t in good number, the applause after every act was, indeed, thunderous, as children and adults enjoyed the various acts at close proximity. Especially, the clowns from Argentina, who kept the audience in splits with their comical acts while the barricades and cages for the ensuing lion act was being set up.
The other fascinating acts included a captivating magic show that left everyone spellbound, a ‘snake show’ that surprisingly was well received, and the popular Globe of Death act wherein helmeted bikers performed nail-biting, daredevil acts, riding their motorbikes at high speed within a globular cage.
Fardin Binazade, an aerial artist from Iran, said he has been in the circus since the age of 17. “Initially, I used to work as a cleaner but I soon trained myself to do aerial acts by watching tutorials on YouTube. Now, the circus is my life and I experience great fulfillment with every applause.”
Today, Binazade not only performs but also teaches calisthenics and aerial acts to his students. He proudly mentioned that some of his students have participated in talent shows in Iran, bringing him immense joy and satisfaction.
‘We’ll be back in Muscat, soon’
Dr Musab al Hinai, the CEO of the Naseem Group said he has great plans to take the circus to all GCC countries. “We hope to soon take up a tour of different countries in the GCC, but I assure the people of Muscat, that the circus will return due to its positive response, particularly from children,” he said, adding that he also has plans to introduce more novel experiences by establishing Salalah’s largest water park in Ateer area later this month.
‘I can control any lion in the world’
Mohammad Ali Ghahremani, the lion-trainer from Iran is a man with no fear of beasts. That he manages to be at explicit ease among lions during training sessions and performances, is enough evidence of his fearless disposition.
“I learnt this remarkable skill from my father who also was a fearless ringmaster. My cats (lions) hail from Iran, Africa, and India. I also have my own personal zoo housing around 127 lions,” he disclosed adding that he has been in this profession for over 35 years.
A Guinness World Record holder for successfully performing daring acts with 40 lions in a single cage, Ghahremani admits that he has, indeed, been in numerous perilous situations over the years when his lions refused to conform to instruction.
Showing evidence of his occasional skirmishes with the wild cats (scratch marks on his face and arms), he asserts, “I have fearlessly confronted many challenges. Today, I can proudly say, that I can control any lion in the world.”
To be able to stay in step with the robust beasts, Ghahremani, who weighs 160kg, said he follows a robust diet and fitness routine everyday. “I eat 70 eggs and 7kg of chicken daily. I also have a rigorous fitness routine, spending two hours at the gym daily.”
Contributed by: Deeba Parween)