Photo credit: Courtesy of Aden FAS

First All-Female Music Band to be Established in South Yemen's Aden


Sat, 25-02-2023 11:42 AM, Aden Time

- Thirteen talented young women pursued EU-funded music training program forming the first all-female band in Yemen.

Ali Mahmood (South24)

As the hustle and bustle of life return to the port city of Aden in South Yemen, art, music, and cinema are rapidly recovering in the city once internationally recognized for its cross-border civilization and art.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Aden FAS

One month following the performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet, with an Adeni twist by the extraordinary Khaleej Aden Theatre Troupe in Aden, the city embraces for its first ever all-girls music band in training.

Thirteen teenagers were selected from 80 girls who applied to join the EU-funded project "Art Is My Profession" which is implemented by Aden Foundation for Arts and Sciences in Aden.

"The project is the first of its kind. We considered it because we believe that women need to be empowered in the field of arts. They need to take the lead in the arts, a profession chiefly dominated by men," Abdullah Al Bakri, the chairman of Aden Foundation for Arts (FAS) and sciences told "South24 Center"

"We worked on the project's proposal and as soon as we received funding from the European Union and Goethe Institute, we opened the door for talented girls and encouraged them to apply. Eighty girls applied for the training opportunity and thirteen from them were interviewed and selected based on their talents and passion," Al Bakri said.

The girls have to undergo rigorous training.

"The trainees are taking four-hour sessions for six days a week," Wahib Al Jaradi, an oud (music instrument) trainer at FAS told "South24 Center".

Photo credit: Courtesy of Aden FAS

"I noticed that they are very passionate about music, and they have rapidly improved and are learning fast."

"We are planning to set up all-female music band in Aden for the first time very soon" he added. 

Life in Aden is not easy for the girls who have ensured they attend the sessions despite difficult living conditions, Jameel Bashammakh, a piano instructor told "South24 Center".

" We found that the trainees have a real desire and passion to learn playing the different music instruments" he said

"I have four girls in my class learning how to play the piano. They weren’t that good at the beginning, but now they play it perfectly," Bashammakh added.

"The rising musicians are learning to play the oud, guitar, violin, and piano as part of their curriculum." 

The girls attending the musical training sessions share the same love and passion for music. The have become good friends, working in such close-knit groups, encouraging each other as one unit, which clearly implies the birth of a first ever all-female music band not just in Aden but all over Yemen.

All the thirteen members of the band are educated. Some are still studying at university،but all have the support of friends and family, as they continue to dream of helping their city restore its bright past when it was internationally recognized for its diverse culture.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Aden FAS

One of the aspiring artists, Alaa Kamal, said that she joined the project because she believes that art is becoming a message of peace, love, and coexistence. She hopes to become a professional musician to spread the spirit of peace among people through art.

"Music is not just an art, it is a lifestyle and a message of peace, and today we need music instruments to prevail and speak louder; and for the tools of death to cease and be silenced," she said.

Aden is renowned for its rich cultural heritage with a long history of prosperous theaters, cinema, and music houses. 

In early 2018, the city took the limelight as its smart insightful director Amr Jamal and his team won international awards through their masterpiece film "10 Days Before The Wedding". 

He also founded the "Khaleej Aden Troupe" in 2005 which portrayed a satirical look at life, as well as "Ala Hurkruk", which in local slang means "on the edge".

In January 2023, the same troupe performed the global playwright "Hamlet" of the great British novelist and poet "Shakespeare" after it was translated first into classical Arabic and then into Aden’s dialect to provide it with a unique Adeni twist. In February 2023, "The Burdened" a feature Adeni film directed by Amr Jamal, was selected to the premier at the Berlin International Film festival. Earlier, the same film won an award in the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah KSA, and scooped an award among works-in-progress at the industry section of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July 2022.

Ali Mahmood

Aden-based freelance journalist who covers the war in Yemen via the National and other foreign media outlets

South YemenAdenMusicArtCinemaCivilization