Ziyad Matar has so much to thank the country for that he never misses an opportunity to express his feelings in the way he prefers being heard: through his music.
The singer and songwriter, who composed the YouTube hit Proudly Emirati in May after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan passed a decree granting citizenship to children of Emirati mothers married to foreigners, has written a new song for National Day.
Ya Biladi (My Country) is a departure from his usual style and includes a mix of English and Arabic lyrics, performed on a guitar.
Matar recorded it last week and plans to release it to the public tomorrow.
“To my loving UAE ... To my peaceful UAE,” sings Matar, translating the words in English. “The land of wonders, my country. To UAE I send love and I send warm regards to all my countrymen.”
“It sounds better in Arabic, of course,” he says with a laugh.
The singer, born to an Emirati mother and Somali father, says he wanted to show his appreciation for all that he has received while growing up here.
“The main idea was the gratitude and love I have for the leadership of the country,” he says. “Just comparing the benefits we have to people in other nations will give you an idea of how privileged we are,” says the 34-year old. “Because we work with our government and the leaders are always communicating with us – you have evidence of their care for citizens.”
The music video begins with snippets of interviews with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, where he talks about creating a better life for Emiratis and taking the country to greater heights of success. It also has a note from the German-born resident artist Katharina Möller, who has made a painting, titled Spirit of the UAE, to show her appreciation for the country.
Matar says he has never felt more close to the culture than now, after being officially recognised as an Emirati.
“When I was growing up, back in Sheikh Zayed’s time, we were never made to feel different and I grew up embracing everything Emirati,” he says. “It was only after high school that a sense of divide came about with those who had Emirati fathers. It became a psychological problem.”
The artist says he now has nothing to worry about.
“Though I have always followed the ways and traditions passed on by my mother, the papers proving my nationality feel very reassuring. It feels like I had been given an exam all the while and have finally received my degree.”
Matar plans to release Ya Biladi on social media and his YouTube channel.
“My last video received very good feedback, even among expatriates who did not understand the words but who loved the music. I hope they will appreciate this labour of love, too.”
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