Samara (سمارة)

This is Iraqi born bellydancer Samara performing on a Lebanese tv game show. In this clip, she wears a faux snake skin bedlah and starts her performance with slow music and some serious backbends all while wearing high heels.
Samara moved from Baghdad to Beirut in Lebanon in the early 1980s as a university student. She also began taking dance lessons from Nadia Gamal who encouraged her to find herself and develop her own style. Samara made her name in Lebanon being most popular during the mid-1980s. However, the Fanoos website is unabashed in describing Samara as ‘…an average dancer with boring tableaux’. The site continues with a bit of background, “In 1986, she (Samara) became a mother and had to shortly stop dancing or making appearances. Because of problems with her spouse Tarek Osman which ended in a divorce, her career was also put on hold and she disappeared for a long while before making a weak comeback in 2008. Samara was however busy giving private dance classes and opening belly dance institutes in all countries of the Gulf, and in 1997 she opened her first Academy in Brazil.” Well, you could shoot pumpkins through the holes in that quote, but we’ll move on……. Samara’s rise to fame seems to have been thanks to her connection with Simon Asmar, I guess you could say he was the Lebanese Simon Cowell of the time. Asmar developed talented artists, not only bellydancers but singers too, and showcased them via his tv talent show ‘Studio el Fann’. He also either directed or produced many of the Lebanese tv game shows where bellydancers or singers performed. The tradition continues as Asmar’s son Bashir has worked as a producer’s assistant on the Lebanese tv bellydance competition called ‘Hezzi Ya Nawaem’. For those who’ve never seen the show, its similar to the tv programme, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, but with bellydancers only.

Samara P1 and P2 (pink)

This is bellydancer Samara in pink harem pants dancing at the Mahrajan Raks Shaqi in Beirut, Lebanon. Samara’s entrance is on horseback, as you can see she doesn’t like it at all and she later said that this is the only time anyone ever got her on a horse.*
As you probably know, Samara was born in Iraq but made her name in Lebanon. She initially took lessons with Nadia Gamal who asked her whether she wanted to learn to dance or whether she only wanted the money.  When Samara replied that she wanted to learn to dance Nadia encouraged her to develop her own personal style.
*Nuria Tahan interview with Samara


Born in Basra in Iraq, Samara moved to Lebanon as a student and took bellydance lessons from Nadia Gamal. The story is that Nadia asked her, ‘Do you want to be a dancer or do you just want the money?’ When Samara replied that she wanted to learn to dance properly, Nadia Gamal encouraged her to practice hard and develop her own personal style.
This is a conversion from VHS video tape to digital so the quality isn’t what we’re used to nowadays but part of this site’s role is to be an archive.
This outdoor concert was possibly held in Achrafieh in Beirut. If someone can confirm please?

Credit for the original video goes to the gents at the long defunct Starlight Videos in Australia.  They used to have a shop just along from the best bakery ever 🙂