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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 03:49 GMT
Iranian diva 'comes home'
Iranian pop diva Googoosh in concert in Dubai
Googoosh has not performed in Iran for more than 20 years
Thousands of Iranians have travelled to Dubai to hear Iranian diva Googoosh give her first concert on the doorstep of her homeland since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The singer appeared before a massive audience on Wednesday night in the Gulf state - about 150 kilometres (100 miles) from Iran on the Arabian side of the Gulf waters.

I feel I'm singing for my people and I'm singing in my country

Iranian diva Googoosh
It was billed as Googoosh's "homecoming" after a silence of more than two decades imposed by Iran's Islamic leadership.

"I feel I'm singing for my people and I'm singing in my country. It's the closest to home," she said ahead of the performance.

The concert fell on the Iranian new year celebration of Norouz, as well as marking the diva's own 50th birthday.

Googoosh press conference in Dubai
The star's hair is cropped ahead of a film role
She is currently on a punishing European tour and flew in overnight for two Gulf performances in separate 24,000- and 8,000-seater venues. The second show is on Saturday.

Organisers said about 70% of the Dubai audience flew in from Iran.

"I want to give the same [love] back to them and sing with all my power. When I am on the stage, I give my feeling to them," said Googoosh.

Long-awaited event

BBC Gulf correspondent Julia Wheeler says the singer is a living legend to Iranians of all ages.

During her years of silence, a whole generation of Iranians grew up hearing their parents talk about Googoosh as if she were a fairy-tale character.

Iranian pop diva Googoosh in concert in Dubai
For many, she is like a fairytale character
And many thought a Googoosh concert was a spectacle they would never experience, something that would never happen.

Reformist Iranian President Mohammed Khatami recently lifted a travel ban on the singer.

Googoosh went on tour to the US and Canada, attracting huge numbers of Iranian expatriates.

The organisers of the Dubai concerts say they have also sold tickets to people across West and South Asia, as well as to Arabs.

The tickets have not been cheap - VIP seats were on sale for about $1,300.

Iranian pop diva Googoosh in concert in Dubai
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See also:

30 Jul 00 | Middle East
Iranian diva finds her voice again
19 Jun 00 | Middle East
Iran's pop diva to sing again
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