TheFace: Sana Al-Jabr, Saudi entrepreneur and piano teacher

Sana Al-Jabr. ( AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 13 June 2019

TheFace: Sana Al-Jabr, Saudi entrepreneur and piano teacher

The eldest of three siblings, I graduated with a degree in business studies from the University of Sharjah in the UAE. When I graduated from high school, my father told me that studying abroad was the first step toward shaping a person’s personality. He encouraged independence and always trusted my judgment.

In addition to my academic studies I also enrolled in a music institute to learn to play the piano. My mom was very supportive of this as she plays the violin, as does my sister. One of the most enjoyable times for us is when we play a piece of music together.

At first I thought of it as a hobby that I wanted to learn and improve, no more than that. Then one of my teachers gave me some good advice: if you are going to spend time, money and effort in learning anything, you might as well get a proper qualification. So I did. I took theory and practical exams and was certified at each level.

After I graduated from university, I got a job with a National Commercial Bank where I worked as a private banker for nine years. I loved banking and feel it is one of the best work environments in which to learn.

During the last year of my banking job, I started a small manufacturing business that specializes in dyeing leather. I juggled both careers for a while until I decided to focus full time on my new business. It was a major shift for me. As an entrepreneur, I have to wear many hats — including accountant, quality control, HR, marketing — especially at the beginning.

What attracted me to the business was the idea of restoring and reusing valuable leather items. It changes the consumption mindset: Instead of buying a replacement whenever something is damaged, the existing item can instead be restored and its useful life extended. Currently, the business is expanding from dealing in personal items such as leather bags, wallets and clothing to include leather furniture and car seats.

I also decided to find time to teach the piano. Watching Saudi women learn and get excited to play music is certainly very rewarding. One of my most difficult experiences was teaching a sight-impaired child. As I am used to teaching by demonstrating on the piano, I had to instead find a way to explain in words what I normally show by example.

The recent announcement that a music institute will be opening in the Kingdom is life-changing news. I aspire to see the culture of music spread in Saudi Arabia and hope I can be part of it. 

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

  • “I was transported into a completely different world”: Jay Kay

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”