Abu Dhabi Festival launches virtual Global Oud Forum

Ahram Online , Friday 28 May 2021

Held under the theme 'The Future Starts Now', the Global Oud Forum features 27 oud players from 14 countries


Celebrating Middle Eastern music traditions, the 18th edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival launched the 2nd Global Oud Forum on Tuesday.

Continuing until 15 June, the Forum's second edition is organized in collaboration with the well-known Iraqi oud virtuoso Naseer Shamma.

The event consists of a total of seven TV-format episodes, posted also on YouTube and featuring 27 oud players from 14 countries.

The Forum will also hold academic inserts about the history and traditions of the instrument, as well as interviews with six renowned oud makers from across the Arab world inviting the viewers to their workshops.

The academic segments of the episodes tackle a multitude of issues which are of interest to both oud players and the audience. The topics tackle the positioning of the oud in the digital age, the instrument's relation to today's industry and its standing with modern music genres. Attracting young audiences, the instrument's' adaptability to the ever-changing expectations of new generations advises and directs emerging oud players on how to sustain its heritage and musical traditions.

The first episode was released on YouTube on 25 May. It included performances by Faisal Al-Saari (UAE), Bechir Gharbi (Tunisia), Sadiq Jaafar (Iraq), oud trio: Islam Taha, Salma Mokhtar and Eslam Abdelaziz (Egypt). The episode sheds light on the crafts of Luthier Amr Fawzi who heads the Arab Oud House workshop in Abu Dhabi, while Noura Al-Mazroui, an academic writer, offers input on the history of the oud in the Gulf region.

Watch Episode 1 below:

The upcoming episodes will be released as follows:

29 May 2021: Episode 2

The performances feature Mohammed Al-Attar (Iraq), Sherine Tohamy (Egypt), Yousif Abbas (Iraq) and Zulkarnain Yusof (Malaysia). The episode also highlights the crafts of Luthier Omar Mohammad Fadhil, filmed at his workshop in Baghdad, Iraq. Duraid Fadhil Al-Khafaji (Iraq) will provide excerpts of his research on the oud and the digital world.

1 June 2021: Episode 3

The performances feature Hazem Shaheen (Egypt), Mohammed Abozekry (Egypt), Ahmad Shamma (Iraq) and Fateen Kanaan (Syria). With each episode a featured report is presented for modern day pioneers in the Oud making sector and for this lineup, Luthier Fawzi Monshed (Busra, Iraq). Academic Researcher Ahmad Al-Hinnawi will provide input on the oud as it relates to the modern music industry.

5 June 2021: Episode 4

The performances include Nehad El-Sayed (Egypt), Jalal Kassam (Syria), Ashraf Awad (Sudan) and Naochika Sogabe (Japan). This episode's featured report focuses on the crafts of Hussein Sabsaby, a luthier based in Damascus, in addition to input from Iraqi Sami Naseem around the oud instrument as it relates to the digital age.

8 June 2021: Episode 5

The episode features Driss El-Maloumi (Morocco), Nabil Hilaneh (Syria), Alaa Shaheen (Amman) and a duet between Somar Al-Naser (Syria) and Bacem Yousfi (Tunisia) both based in France. The episode will shed light on the crafts of Nazih Ghadban (Ras Baalbak, Lebanon) while Mourad Sakli walks us through the origins of the oud, explaining how this instrument integrates into today's music industry and how artists can achieve support for their work.

12 June 2021: Episode 6

The performances feature Necati Celik (Turkey), Hisham Errish (Libya), Hashem Qallaf (Kuwait) and Zain Al-Marhabi (Saudi Arabia). The episode will also shed light on the works of Ya'aqoub Jasim, a luthier from Kuwait, and will highlight excerpts from research by Academic Writer Fahad Mohsen Al-Bathali (Kuwait) on other forms of entertainment that disrupt the preservation of heritage instruments such as that of the oud, with emerging generations.

The content of the seventh and final Episode is yet to be revealed.


Launched in 1996, Abu Dhabi Festival is among the oldest, non-profit cultural organisations in the Arabian Gulf. Presenting its 18th edition this year, the festival continues to be dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, of development, of culture and of creativity, while supporting Middle Eastern debuts and nurturing the careers of gifted young professionals throughout the Arab world.

This year the festival kicked off on 1st February. The festival plans to continue throughout the year, shifting many events to online platforms in response to the global pandemic.

"The Festival utilises the latest digital solutions to continue its work advancing the profound development ignited at the nation’s founding. In new interactive experiences, we present the world’s greatest works of art and culture, carrying the UAE’s cultural vision forward into an innovative future that starts now," reads the festival's statement.

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