x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The unintended consequences of oud solos

That so many World Music festivals, presenters and writers in the West present oud solos and soloists as representing Arabic music only serves to increase the obstacles faced by Arab female singers.

The article Band of brothers (November 18) profiled the three oud-playing brothers - Samir, Adnan and Wissam - of the Joubran Trio and rightly pointed towards the new trend of oud players no longer willing to perform as accompanists and preferring to present performances of solo oud. 

Le Trio Joubran are a case in point, as are an increasing number of young (male) oud players. In this respect, any comparison in the sidebar with the likes of Muhammad El Qasabji, who dedicated his career to supporting the great Egyptian singer Umm Kalthoum, is objectionable.

But the author Tim Cummings fails to grasp the fundamental issue. Arabic music is indeed a vocal genre, that is, led by the voice, which meant in many cases that the bandleader was a woman. If the Iraqi master Munir Bashir forged the way with solo oud performances, he probably did not realise that this development would be used by many of the next generation of oud players to avoid having to take the lead from a woman.

The struggle between the sexes is at the heart of much of the Arab world today, with an increasingly insecure male community unable to countenance anything but superiority and domination. What is happening in Arabic music today, and with the oud in particular, is a manifestation of this same phenomenon.

That so many World Music festivals, presenters and writers in the West who present oud solos and soloists as representing Arabic music only serves to increase the obstacles faced by Arab female singers.

Richard Strensham, Abu Dhabi


Giving the wrong picture of India

I was reading the lifestyle article Awe of an emerging Chindia (November 11) by Harvey Jones that detailed the amazing economic progress of China and India.

It was quite a pleasure to read about the emerging economic superpowers with the opportunities this holds for the future generations and the wealth it will create in years to come to the billion plus population of each country. But what is more shocking and disturbing is the constant fatuous attitude of the media to dress up such articles with tedious photographs of India.

India is a thriving economy with more and more vibrant cities all across the country with a plethora of young people and glittering surroundings, not a country with a shabbily-dressed up female worker, with a head-load of earth amid a background of shanties or a street with a cow or goat lurking around.

If you can't find an appropriate picture, ask any Indian. They will be more than glad to mail you a better photo of the country that goes with the article, rather than an old-fashioned zeitgeist look.

Satish Kesavan, Dubai


Six days off is a very long time

The authorities granted four workdays as Eid holidays to banks in the UAE this time, like holidays to the government sector. But the authorities should reconsider granting such long holidays since banks are working more closely with the private sector. 

The closure of banks from Monday to Thursday, four working days, and then the Friday weekly day off and additionally Saturday an off day for international transactions by all banks, is a very long time for international business.

This six-day holiday for banks has affected many in the business community. I hope for a reconsideration to halt such long holidays for banks for the welfare of the community here. 

For your information, the mostly Muslim country of Indonesia was closed for only one day for Eid.

Name Withheld by Request


Working to their own advantage

I refer to the news article Canadian minister admits UAE relations 'require some work' (November 19) in which the Canadian defence minister Peter MacKay stated that it would take 10 years to repair the relationship with the UAE since the dispute over landing rights for UAE airlines.

I think Canada made the best decision in not allowing the UAE to have more flights in their home country. This would take away from their business and profits to sustain their own country. The UAE didn't get what they wanted so they took away an army/defence base from their country in retaliation.

Shelly Schupad, Dubai


Best wishes for new royal visit

The article Duke and Queen grand examples of husband and wife (November 20) reflected upon the long marriage between Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

I hope that as many people as possible, particularly in the huge community of British and other Commonwealth citizens here, will be given a chance to see them.

A Croucher, Abu Dhabi