JEDDAH: A museum in Jeddah will be dedicated to the life and work of Tariq Abdul-Hakim, the maestro who composed the Saudi national anthem. Abdul-Hakim, who died in 2012 at the age of 92, was known as “the dean of Saudi art.”
“It’s a dream come true,” said the son of the late artist, Sultan Tariq Abdul-Hakim.
The museum will be inaugurated in late 2022, and will be located in Beit Al-Manoufi in Historic Jeddah and will feature items showcasing local music history and the artist’s contributions to the Kingdom’s arts scene.
Sultan told Arab News about how the culture minister met him and put forward the suggestion to “obtain my father’s collectibles and display them the way they should be displayed.”
“We, the family of Tariq Abdul-Hakim, thank our government and the Culture Ministry,” he said adding that it was possibly one of the happiest moments since the demise of his father 8 years ago.
“This was his dream and he worked hard to achieve this dream for about 40 years. Even though he is not with us, his memory will remained etched in the memories of his loving fans, appreciated by his peers and what he gave back to the country in the form of art, music and traditional folklore,” Sultan said.
According to Sultan, the museum will include a collection of Abdul-Hakim’s personal archives and belongings, including musical instruments, 3,000 reels for his recordings, army uniform, photo albums, and some music pieces by leading Arab singers such as Umm Kulthoum and Mohammed Abdul Wahab, as well as visual and audio exhibits of him performing his compositions.
The museum will be divided into two main sections, the first to showcase the personal history of the late artist, and the second a center for musical research, including archives on Saudi and Arab music.
Tariq Abdul-Hakim was a composer, musician and historian who collected musical artifacts, antiques and manuscripts, and had a passion for folklore.
Born in 1920 in Taif, he excelled in performing famous local dances and folk music before learning about oud as well as contemporary and new music.
His fascination with Saudi folklore grew from a young age as he helped his father till their land, singing folk songs with other farmers.
“He bought his first oud for only SR15 ($4) much to the displeasure of many at that time,” said his son Sultan in a TV interview about the life of his late father. “But he soon excelled at it, paving the way to help spread his region’s folk music and his career later on in life.”
After joining the Saudi army, he was sent to Egypt in 1952 as the first Saudi to study military band music, where he learned to read and write musical notes on the request of the then-Defense Minister Prince Mansour bin Abdul Aziz.
The prince called my father and told him about his idea of establishing an army music institute,” said Sultan.
“He got the idea after King Abdul Aziz’s official visit to Egypt where he was welcomed by an army band and played the national anthems of both countries. That’s when my father’s skills as a composer came to be put to good use for generations to come.”
Upon his return to the Kingdom, and retiring from the army years later, the late composer worked with some of the greatest names in the Arab world such as Wadee Al-Safi, Samira Ahmed, Talal Maddah, Mohammed Abdo, Mohammed Qindeel and Najat Al-Sagheera. He composed music for poems written by Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal, Ibrahim Khafaji, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Saleh Jalal and many others.
Abdul-Hakim brought great attention to national folk heritage, introducing Saudi music to the world. His first song “Ya Reem Wadi Thageef,” written by Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal and composed by the late artist was one of the top requested songs on Saudi television’s “Sawt Al-Arab” music show for 4-5 years straight. Some of Saudi Arabia’s most famous songs in the 1970s and 80s were composed by the late artist such as Heyam Younes’ “Talaq Qalbi,” Fahd Ballan’s “Ana Inta,” Talal Maddah’s “Aash meen shafak” and “Jameel wa Asmar.”
He wrote more than a dozen books and manuscripts covering regional music, instruments, and musicians.
He also wrote several works on a range of cultural and heritage topics, from traditional food to games, legends and sayings. He composed more than 500 musical pieces sung by over 100 singers from across the Arab world, 10 symphonies and 36 patriotic songs during the Gulf war.
In 1972, Abdul-Hakim helped found the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts.
Four years later, he was appointed head of folklore in the Kingdom, and formed a national band to perform at major events.
He was recognized locally and internationally, and in 1981 he won the UNESCO International Music Award, thus becoming the first Arab to receive the award and the sixth musician in the world to be awarded the honor.
In 1983, he was elected president of the Arab Music Council of the Arab League, and re-elected in 1987, where he served as the representative of Saudi Arabia.
The “dean of Saudi art” passed away in 2012 leaving behind a plethora of great works still sung and loved by many to this day.