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 VAT revenues hit SR46.7bn in a year: Finance minister

Updated 14 November 2019

Saudi VAT revenues hit SR46.7bn in a year: Finance minister

  • Al-Jadaan announced the figures during the first edition of the General Authority for Zakat and Tax
  • Said Kingdom was working to reach a consensual solution for tax challenges

RIYADH: Saudi VAT revenues have hit SR46.7 billion ($12.45 billion), a significant increase on estimates for the fiscal year, according to the Kingdom’s finance minister.

Mohammed Al-Jadaan announced the figures during the first edition of the General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GAZT) conference and exhibition.

“The commitment rate came at 90 percent, exceeding all the expectations of GAZT and some international organizations that ranged between 60 and 70 percent,” he said.

“The conference comes as the Kingdom is witnessing an economic and social transformation under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to achieve a diverse economy and sustainable growth in line with the Kingdom’s 2030 vision.

“The Kingdom’s fiscal policy aims to achieve a balance between the state’s financial and economic objectives. It seeks to maintain financial sustainability for the medium and long terms, which stimulates economic growth rates. This generates from our recognition that fiscal policies are one of the most important drivers of growth in the non-oil sector,” he added.

“The digital economy is rapidly advancing. We hope that modern technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchains will improve compliance with zakat and taxes, enrich the business sector, lower costs, promote tax transparency and develop e-commerce tax regulations.

“This conference will hopefully achieve a qualitative leap in the sectors of zakat and taxes by promoting cooperation and exchanging experiences.”

Al-Jadaan said that as the Kingdom prepared to host the next G20 summit, it was working to reach a consensual solution for tax challenges of the digital economy and contribute with other member states to stabilizing the global economy.