Women flock to join top violinist’s new Saudi music institute 

1 / 2
Egyptian violinist Mahmoud Sorour has opened a music institute in the Kingdom.
2 / 2
Mahmoud Sorour with General Entertainment Authority Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh.
Updated 27 January 2019

Women flock to join top violinist’s new Saudi music institute 

RIYADH: Popular Egyptian violinist Mahmoud Sorour has added another string to his bow by opening a new music institute in Saudi Arabia.
Hundreds of the artist’s fans have already signed up to learn how to play the wooden string instrument at the first dedicated center of its kind for Riyadh.
Sorour said he had been overwhelmed by the level of interest shown by Saudis, especially among women.
The musician, who has become a major star in Saudi Arabia after taking part in concerts staged throughout the Kingdom during 2018, said he was amazed at how many women wanted to register for the institute with some even hoping to make a career out of playing the violin.
Business analyst, Mariam Al-Hazmi, said she could not wait to sign up to join Sorour’s classes. “I started learning to play the violin at home as a hobby, but I didn’t have very good learning resources and couldn’t find any music teachers in Riyadh to train me. This is a dream come true.” she said.
At the request of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Sorour aims to train 50 Saudi violinists to a level that will allow them to perform at a new opera house in Jeddah, due to be completed by 2022. And Al-Hazmi would love to become one of those violinists.
“I had never considered making a career out of playing the violin, but now there is the institute it becomes a real possibility. I can see myself part of the violin band playing at the new opera house three years from now,” she said.
Noura S., a Saudi art education PhD candidate, also expressed her excitement about the new institute. 
“I will definitely register once I graduate and return from the US, especially if they have evening classes that do not interfere with my job,” she said.
 She added that playing the violin was not as easy as it looked. “Violinists dazzle me, especially when they dance while playing the instrument. I feel it creates an intimacy between the musician and the violin, and that is why I want to learn to play. It would be nice to one day play as a professional in public.”
Sorour said he got the idea to open the institute in the capital from his adoring followers. 
“A lot of people were saying how much they loved my music, and they started asking me through social media to teach them how to play the violin,” he told Arab News.
As a result, he decided to set up the music institute in Riyadh, with support and sponsorship from the Saudi Arabian government.
Sorour already hopes to expand the project by teaching instruments such as the flute, oud and piano and to run singing and songwriting classes. 
Meanwhile, he said that more than 250 people had registered to join the institute and he expected that number to double.  
The institute is open for all age groups, but Sorour is particularly looking for budding talent aged between 10 to 20 years old. 
Sorour expressed his thanks to the Kingdom’s General Authority for Entertainment and the General Culture Authority for their support in establishing the institute.
He added that plans were in the pipeline for his music institute in Riyadh to collaborate with a similar venture at Taif University.

Hana Abdullah Alomair, Saudi film director

Updated 30 May 2020

Hana Abdullah Alomair, Saudi film director

Hana Abdullah Alomair is the director of Netflix’s first Saudi thriller original series, titled “Whispers,” which is due to begin streaming in 190 countries on June 11. 

A Saudi writer, filmmaker, and movie critic, Alomair won the Silver Palm Tree Award for best script at the Saudi Film Competition in 2008.

She gained a bachelor’s degree in Arabic-English translation from King Saud University in 1992 and four years later a master’s degree in the same field of study from Heriot-Watt University, in Scotland.

Her documentary “Beyond Words” was screened during the Gulf Film Festival in 2019 and was selected for the main competition in this year’s Muscat International Film Festival.

A member of the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, she has worked as a head writer in writing workshops for several TV series. She was a jury member at the Saudi Film Festival held by Rotana in 2013. Her second
flick, “The Complaint,” was selected in the main competition of Tessa’s Festival for Asian and African Films in Morocco in 2014 and it won the Golden Palm
Tree Award for best short fiction film in the Saudi Film Competition in 2015.

In 2016, Alomair, together with Hind Al-Fahhad, scooped the prize for best script for the short film “Peddlers” at the King Fahd Center Short Film Competition.

She recently published a book about the Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, and in 2017 wrote a play called “Qat Oqat.”

Last year, she wrote and directed her latest short film “Swan Song,” which won the Golden Palm Tree Award for best actor in the Saudi Film Festival.