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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Music lessons offer respite from war in Yemen - in pictures

Musician in capital offers free classes in hopes of reviving national orchestra

A silhouette of a Yemeni female music student practices playing the violin during a music class at the Cultural Centre in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed / AP Photo
A silhouette of a Yemeni female music student practices playing the violin during a music class at the Cultural Centre in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed / AP Photo

For the young people who receive lessons from Abdullah El Deb'y, music is a refuge from the misery of Yemen's devastating war.

Mr El Deb'y offers free lessons to students eager to escape — at least psychologically — for a time the suffering caused by Yemen's war and is seeking to form a national youth orchestra.

"I have a passion for music because it is the language of peace, especially considering the bad times we're going through," he said recently. "Despite these circumstances, we will keep learning and playing music."

Mr El Deb'y, who is in his early 50s, has academic degrees in both Arabic and Western music and was part of a 40-musician national orchestra created in 1975 that eventually dissolved. He is looking to revive the concept and pass on his expertise to create a new generation of musicians.

He gives students in the capital Sanaa, under rebel control since September 2014, both theoretical and practical lessons as part of his "Learn Music For Free In Wartime" initiative. He hopes to revive an art form that he says has nearly vanished from Yemeni life.

Yemen last month entered the fourth year of a civil war between Iran-backed rebels and government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE.

More than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed in the fighting and millions have been displaced, with the majority of the population now dependent on humanitarian aid.

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