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Enrique Iglesias Performs in Damascus

By SAMAR KASSABLI
The Associated Press
Thursday, July 5, 2007; 12:14 PM

DAMASCUS, Syria -- More than 10,000 fans, many of them teenagers, cheered and danced the night away at a performance by Enrique Iglesias, the first concert by a Western pop singer in Syria in over 30 years.

The 32-year-old Latin heartthrob charmed his audience with many of his hits, including "Hero," "Escape," "Love to See You Cry" and "Just Wanna Be With You," as well as songs from his new album, "Insomniac."

Iglesias said he wasn't concerned about performing in Syria, "although many people have told me not to."

The sold-out concert began late Wednesday and ended after midnight at an open air stadium near the 11th-century Damascus citadel. Ticket prices ranged between $30 and $200. A large crowd gathered outside the venue, built specifically for the event, where two giant TV screens were set up.

"I like his songs and his father's songs," said 24-year-old business graduate Sandy al-Haj, referring to Julio Iglesias.

"Syria should invite other world singers," she said.

Although Syria is rich with culture, historic and tourist sites, Western celebrities have largely stayed away from the autocratic country for years.

However, Syria has been taking small steps to open up the Socialist-style economy and allow greater opportunities and access to information for young people.

The concert was organized by private company LiBaladi, but other private Syrian companies and Syrian expatriates helped with the financing. Revenues, according to organizers, will go to Syrian charities.

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On the Net:

Enrique Iglesias:

http://www.enriqueiglesias.com

© 2007 The Associated Press