Inspired by Saudi Arabia’s social reforms, Syrian musician steps up effort to promote cultural harmony, tolerance

Abu Al-Kheir’s performance was well-received by the audience in Jeddah. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 06 October 2019

Inspired by Saudi Arabia’s social reforms, Syrian musician steps up effort to promote cultural harmony, tolerance

  • Abu Al-Kheir wants to bridge gaps between different communities through his performances

JEDDAH: Since time immemorial, music has played a key role in binding human society. Social reforms in Saudi Arabia, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have paved the way for many public musical performances.
These reforms have given artists opportunities to express themselves. Syrian musician Basheer Abu Al-Kheir, 75, has been playing the qanun, a string instrument, in different parts of the Arab world for 50 years. He has been performing in Jeddah for six years, and began performing in cafes and restaurants over a year ago.
Abu Al-Kheir was well-received by the audience at Jeddah’s Naranj, where he performed Sufi songs.
“I was asked on a Friday night to come to the restaurant and perform religious Ibtihalat (chanting praise of Allah), and the audience liked my performance as it came from a pure heart full of spirituality and thoughtful words,” he told Arab News. “Consequently, people started asking me for more performances.”

BACKGROUND

• Basheer Abu Al-Kheir has been playing the qanun for 55 years, and his voice has been familiar to radio listeners in Damascus, Cairo and Amman for 50 years.

• Syrian musician Basheer Abu Al-Kheir has been performing in Jeddah for six years, and began performing in cafes and restaurants over a year ago.

Abu Al-Kheir wants to bridge gaps between different communities through his music, which focuses on praising Allah.
“We should accept other Muslim communities as we have something very important in common: The worship of Allah and love for his prophet,” he said, adding that music is the only common language between everyone on this planet.
“When it’s authentic and stemming from a sincere place, there’s no doubt that music refines the hearts of its listeners and takes them to a world free of grudges,” he said.
“Hearts are purified and hatred is thrown far away, and only love and serenity among people will remain.”

 

We should accept other Muslim communities as we have something very important in common: The worship of Allah and love for his prophet. Music is the only common language between everyone on this planet.

Basheer Abu Al-Kheir, Musician

Abu Al-Kheir said the Vision 2030 reform plan paved the way for the art scene in Saudi Arabia. “There’s no doubt that the reform steps taken by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were wonderful on all levels, especially the revitalization of the art scene in general and music in particular,” he added.
“We could only dream of this opportunity (performing in public places such as restaurants and hotels) in the past. The field of art has become essential, which has made people happy.”

 


Saudi Arabia’s ‘Awdah’ initiative helps over 12,790 expats return home

Updated 04 June 2020

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Awdah’ initiative helps over 12,790 expats return home

  • Residents with exit and re-entry visas, final exit visas and individuals with visit visas are eligible for the service
  • People can register through the Absher platform

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s initiative Awdah helped 12,798 expatriates return home amid the coronavirus travel bans, state news agency SPA reported.
The program, which means return in Arabic, was launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help stranded expats return to their home countries and received a total of 178,452 individual registrations between April 22 to June 3. Only those whose countries have agreed to receive them have been flown out.
Residents with exit and re-entry visas, final exit visas and individuals with visit visas are eligible for the service.
To register, a person must use the Absher platform to provide residency number, date of birth, phone number, city of departure and name of airport at home country, the report added.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, the General Authority of Civil Aviation and other governmental organizations are working together to help stranded expats return home.