Hamida Aman Builds Cultural Bridges and Promotes Peace Through a Community Music Festival

Children are seen scribbling messages of peace and tolerance on a big board, ahead of the “Salam Aleikum” peace concert at Zabeel Park on Friday evening.
Children are seen scribbling messages of peace and tolerance on a big board, ahead of the “Salam Aleikum” peace concert at Zabeel Park on Friday evening.


Kabul-born Hamida Aman Organises a non-profit peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park, under the Patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding


Featuring seven talented alternative music artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Africa, “Salam Aleikum” concert was held at Dubai’s Zabeel park for the first time.

The non-profit music festival aims to promote peace and cultural tolerance amongst the youth and to present a more positive image of Muslims to the rest of the world.

The concert is organised under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding, by Hamida Aman, the General Manager of Guru Production, a Dubai Media City production company.

The centre supports community events, but this was the centre’s first community music project.

Nasif Kayed, Managing Director of Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding said: “We are all for any good cause that promotes peace between mankind, we are a non-profit organisation ourselves and always count on the support of our friends out there.”

Hamida Aman, Owner of a production company and radio station in Kabul, Afghanistan has organised a similar peace concert in Afghanistan two years ago.

“In 2013, I had a concert in Kabul for peace, where artists from neighboring countries performed in Kabul. It was very successful without any security problems.”

Since 2010, Aman has been based in Dubai as the General Manager of Guru Production, but she still visits Afghanistan regularly.

Hamida thought that it was the right time to bring the project to Dubai after a recent trip to Europe. She noticed the mainly negative perception that the West had of Muslims.

“I was very shocked that they had such a bad image of the Muslims,” she said.

The festival brings together artists from different cultures and backgrounds to communicate a positive message about Muslims and encourage peace and cultural tolerance.

Hamida adds: “We are not all terrorists. We are not all aggressive. We know how to be happy as well.”

“For me Dubai is one of the best places to celebrate togetherness. Here, all communities are living together in peace and harmony.”

Aman’s personal experience as a refugee in Switzerland for half of her life strongly inspires her peace-focused projects and initiatives.

“Because I know what war is, what is destruction and what it means to be a refugee and to go in exile, it’s important that we keep fighting to avoid this for future generations,” she said.

“My generation always lived in war and exile, and I don’t want this to continue happening in other places.”

The alternative artist line-up featured musicians whose songs carry powerful messages.

Hamida plans to organise future peace concerts in other Middle-Eastern cities.

“This is the first one in Dubai, and I hope that I will manage to bring it to Jordan, Lebanon and to Cairo eventually – to make a caravan,” she said.

The non-profit initiative will continue to spread the message of peace, and will always be for the community.

“The concert is for a cause and I want to keep it like that,” Hamida says.

“I would like to keep it like that – always for free.”

YouTube Video link:

A short video recorded at the venue while Indian Reggae band, Delhi Sultanate were performing on stage at the “Salam Aleikum” music festival at Zabeel Park on Friday:


“Salam Aleikum” peace concert’s logo celebrates the harmony and connection of youth from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
“Salam Aleikum” peace concert’s logo celebrates the harmony and connection of youth from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.


The word “Salam” means peace in Arabic. Artists in Zabeel park painting the letters of the word “Salam” ahead of the concert start on Friday.
The word “Salam” means peace in Arabic. Artists in Zabeel park painting the letters of the word “Salam” ahead of the concert start on Friday.


Indian reggae band duo Delhi Sultanate and Begum X perform songs of equality, community, and positivity at the first ever Salam Aleikum peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park on Friday.
Indian reggae band duo Delhi Sultanate and Begum X perform songs of equality, community, and positivity at the first ever Salam Aleikum peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park on Friday.


Random Post: The Killers at Sandance, Physical and Emotional Exhaustion and Overall Chaos!

As I sit to write this post while sitting at my favorite cafe, I can feel the rapid pulse of my heart beat as I place my left index finger on the side of my neck. Yes, I’ve always been a weirdo and I tend to do silly things in public too!

Where have I been?

I must start by apologizing for not writing in such a long time. As many of you know by now, I have just started an undergraduate journalism course at a University in Dubai. Since I’ve decided to put this degree as a priority, blogging had to wait until I had the time for it once I was done with my assignments, University hectic commute and daily house errands.

I’m glad that I took the time off (unintentionally) though, as the break allowed me to reflect on my blogging ways and revise my strategy a little bit…well, more like go back to what I was doing when I first started this blog a little over a year ago. But I’ll leave that for you readers to discover 🙂

The Killers at Sandance Gig

At the time of planning this post, I had just gone to The Killers concert at the ever-popular Nasimi Beach and so this topic was in my notes for this blog post. The ironic thing about this show was that my British friend Lianne had told me about it way back in Ramadan…and when I told her that I wasn’t sure of who ‘The Killers” were, she played a music clip from her phone with one of their famous songs.  For some reason, I assumed that “The Killers” were a British band and that I would be having an authentic British experience with a group of cool Brits (my friend Lianne and her friends).

Then while standing at the show with my new cool group of British expat friends, I explain my excitement to one of the members of the group, only to find out that The Killers are actually an American band from Las Vegas, Nevada!

That didn’t change the thrilling factor of the experience. As I still managed to have a great night with my British friends. Plus, being a fan of indie/alternative rock music meant that I still sang along and enjoyed most of the songs that were played that night. The Killers’ music style reminded me a lot of the band Green Day; one of my favorite bands that I used to listen to as a teenager.


When I first started my course at University, I was trying my best to keep the blog and my usual active lifestyle going as much as I could. This however proved to be so draining as the semester went on and we started to have assignments to hand in. As much as I enjoyed attending all sorts of social and work related events and meetups, I now realize that I must keep it to a minimum if I wish to maintain my sanity and health!

It certainly isn’t an easy task trying to juggle all of the following at the same time:

  • Attending University classes and working on assignments.
  • Attending main social and work related events and other meetups.
  • Going for blog reviews, topics and writing posts.
  • Updating my Facebook Page (glad to discover scheduled posts!).
  • Following the world news and current affairs (on TV and radio) to be able to get at least one answer right at the Media Law and Ethics weekly news quiz :s
  • Attempting to read my current book on successful blogging.
  • Grocery shopping and other essential errands.
  • Housework chores (washing dishes, laundry, ironing clothes…)
  • Catching up with friends and making sure that I don’t disappear from the real world 😉


Revised Priorities

In a desperate attempt to save what’s left of my pride and self-integrity…

  • I will no longer push myself to attend social or work related events when I’m not in the mood for it or lack the required energy and stamina for socializing in a decent manner with other individuals!
  • I will put working for my journalism course first and everything else will come after that.
  • I will not bother much about giving my business card to new people and telling them about my Facebook page. Mainly because most will only store the card somewhere and will never put in the effort to type the name of my Facebook Page in the search box to check it out.
  • I will pay more attention to spending time with friends and the people who matter.
  • I will allocate more ‘me-time’ and try to relax with much-needed spa treatments and movie nights!

My Halloween Weekend

I plan to spend my long weekend doing low-key activities namely: lounging by the beach and reading, going to the cinema, having dinner with friends and getting a rejuvenating massage.

I will not dress up for Halloween or attend any parties…because I’m too tired to go shopping for a costume or dress up for the occasion! Yes, as you can tell I am seriously exhausted and could use a short break from an active social life.


Since this post is dragging for too long, I decided to leave some other topics for next time.

In the meantime, you could participate by telling me the following:

Do you sometimes feel like you have no control over your life? and that no matter how hard you try, things are just getting chaotic and messed up?

If so, what techniques and methods do you follow to get you back on track?

The Rebellious Saudi Diva Signing Off…







And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?



You may have noticed that I have been covering a lot of music shows in my recent posts. You may have also taken a look at my about page where I mention some facts about myself and how I am 30-something. So you might be wondering why I am living a 20-something lifestyle in my early thirties?

While most people my age could be settling down by getting engaged or married, or possibly already have a bunch of kids at school age, I’m still celebrating my spontaneous twenty-something- like days! I like to contribute this to the fact that I grew up and have lived in Saudi for most of my life. And must add; to somewhat over-protective and controlling parents. Who seemed to give a good amount of importance to people’s opinions and judgmental views. You can’t completely blame them though. Saudi society is quite fierce and tough when it comes to conservativeness and liberality. It’s a very complicated topic that I would need to dedicate a whole post to explain it, and it still wouldn’t be enough!

For now, I just felt like I could use some justification for my sometimes immature and crazy behavior 🙂 Like making sure that I don’t miss out on any cool concerts in town and dragging  my “more responsible” and mature friends to them.

So I basically didn’t get to do many things that people in their twenties would do. Although I did argue my way around to some cool concerts in Bahrain when I was a teenager (yes, I was rebellious since then!).

Sometimes, I wonder if my late-lived twenties phase will ever end. Because I enjoy it so much that I would never want to live a different lifestyle!

Moving on to Train’s concert, I used to listen to the amazingly talented American pop rock band as a teenager growing up in Saudi. Yes, my parents were not that strict :p  So to me, their show was more of a trip down memory lane to my 90’s in Saudi. When life was much more simpler and easier. When all I cared about was which magazines I wanted to get with me from Bahrain when I went there in the weekend. Yeah I was a weird teenager too! But doesn’t everyone love and long for the 90’s? I personally would go back to those years at any given time.

Arriving to the concert venue, me and my friend were surprised at how quiet it was! there wasn’t even any music playing at some point. And while I expected to see other 30-something Train nostalgic fans at the concert, all I seemed to see were teenagers and a generally younger crowd of people who didn’t look like they were old enough to sing along to “Drops of Jupiter”! My friend had also pointed out that it was her first time to see a five year-old girl at a concert 🙂

Nevertheless, Train put on a great show and sang many of their new and old hit songs. Such as “Hey Soul Sister” and “Meet Virginia”.

They also got the crowd engaged in some songs by asking random people to come up on stage and sing or dance along with the band.

At the end of the show, the band left the stage before coming back to sing my all-time favorite hit for the band: “Drops of Jupiter”. I was glad that I didn’t leave when my friend decided to leave after they left the stage the first time, as I would have missed them perform the ever popular and great track “Drops of Jupiter”. I think I was going to break down and cry when I saw them leave the stage before singing my song!

You must have guessed that I was the only person in that young crowd who was super excited and singing along to “Meet Virgina” and “Drops of Jupiter”! Yes, Dubai makes me feel old. But I stand my ground and continue to act and behave like a twenty-something 🙂

I must confess that I did manage to record some good video clips at the show. But since I am still not familiar with posting videos on this blog (more like, don’t feel like uploading them on you tube as I found out that this needs to be done), I will not be sharing my priceless Train videos for now. Who knows, I might get the motivation required to actually upload videos one day 🙂

So, was my one hour and 15 minutes or so of 90’s music nostalgia worth it? I’d say hell yeah! It was worth every second of the warmth and simplicity and joy it brought to my forever 90’s soul.




Since I’m having issues with my photos, I will only post the links for my favorite Train songs. And I will try to upload more images once I sort out the technical glitch.

Enjoy and long live the undying 90’s spirit!

My Electronic Dance Weekend!



Honestly speaking, I’m not a huge fan of dance or techno music.  I grew up listening to all different genres of music, and dance was an occasional thing on my play list. Maybe mostly when I was working out. Another reason is the fact that I’m a 90’s girl. So if I wasn’t listening to Michael or Janet Jackson or Madonna, then I would be singing along to Boyz II Men or Lenny Kravitz! Yes, It was a wild mix of tastes and music types.

But since the world-renowned Dutch musician, DJ and record producer Tiesto was coming to town, I had to reconsider my music taste preferences. The show was being held at an indoor venue. Which doesn’t really suit me much. As the weather in Dubai is at its best at this time of the year, so it would be great to attend an outdoor concert. Plus, the place was packed with crazy dance music fans, who were jumping vigorously the whole time. This only meant one thing: you couldn’t keep track of the number of times that your toes got stepped on, or you were hit by someone’s arms or body while they were dancing and jumping around.  Not the best concert experience, I tell you.

I must admit that my second dance music concert for the weekend was more fun and enjoyable. It was the EDMX concert part of the “My Music X” festival at Nasimi Beach, Atlantis. The stage was set outdoors at a spacious area, the ground was covered with sand as it was at the beach, and the visual effects and graphics were simply outstanding. The EDMX night featured famous artists including: Example, Sander Kleinenberg, ATB, Marco V, Miss Nine, Judge Jules and many others.

Hearing Example perform took me back in time to their new year’s eve concert in 2009 when I was living in London. I truly enjoyed singing along to their hits and reminiscing on my glorious London days. ATB is another great dance artist that I used to listen to when I was younger. So many of his tracks were famous hits that everyone could sing along to.

Aside from the stunning graphics and visual effects at the stage, there was blazing fire as well! it was an impressive show that got the crowd pumped up. And the venue wasn’t packed, so there was plenty of space for everyone to dance around and practice their moves.

So I would say that I enjoy listening to dance music with vocals as opposed to just repetitive beats with no vocals. And of course, famous hit songs that I am familiar with and can sing along to, would definitely make for an amazing night at the sands of Nasimi Beach, Atlantis.


DJ Tiesto at Sunburn Festival
DJ Tiesto at Sunburn Festival


the crowd at Tiesto's show
the crowd at Tiesto’s show



3D visual effects at EDMX Festival
3D visual effects at EDMX Festival







All Jazzed Up!

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As part of the Dubai Jazz Festival, a number of Internationally-acclaimed jazz musicians were playing at the OSN Jazz Garden stage. On the fourth night of the Jazz Garden, the stage hosted soul-trumpeter and music composer “Lin Rountree” and vocalist “Barrence Whitfield”.

Both accomplished performers kept the fun-loving crowd entertained as they swayed along to funky jazz tunes. And by the end of the night, the vibe was so right that most of the audience got up from their seats and started dancing and singing along with the artists.

As my blogger friend Pinay Flying High has stated, the Dubai Jazz Festival was so well-organized and I couldn’t agree more. I have enjoyed one of the main gig nights of the festival that hosted One Republic, Guy Manoukian, and Gary Honor so much that I went back for another jazz garden night.

Honestly, another reason that made me go back to the venue was the unbelievably cute and yummy dessert selections offered by The Ivy! The upscale restaurant, bar and jazz lounge served the perfect sweets to compliment the fabulous weather and lively atmosphere at the Jazz Festival. You could choose from the ever-popular red velvet cup cake with a creamy vanilla ice-cream, the warm and rich sticky toffee pudding, the classic yet delighting cappuccino crème brûlée, or a mint chocolate flavored ice-cream sandwich. Whatever you decide to indulge in from the charming mini gourmet treats, rest assured that you will enjoy your pick till the last bite 🙂



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Red Velvet Cup Cake with Vanilla Ice cream
Red Velvet Cup Cake with Vanilla Ice cream
mini dessert delights from The Ivy Dubai
mini dessert delights from The Ivy Dubai

My Valentine’s Night Out With One Republic!


When I heard that American pop rock band OneRepublic are playing in Dubai as part of the Dubai Jazz Festival main gigs, I was so excited as I am a big fan of their music and more specifically the deep and meaningful lyrics they use in most of their songs.

The concert also happened to be on Valentine’s day, which gives us all a great excuse to go out and attend a show and sing along to some famous hits by a world-famous band.

Having  passed on a chance to get free VIP tickets courtesy of Emirates Airlines after I had already purchased my own regular tickets about two hours before I got a call from a friend offering me the VIP tickets only meant that I would get to enjoy the real experience of the Dubai Jazz Fest. Or at least that’s what I kept saying to myself and my companion joining me at the standing area as a form of consolation. But as you might expect, it wasn’t a very effective reason.

However, we did have a great time at the venue! We missed the first act: Gary Honor. But when we arrived, we were enchanted by the ultra hip beats of the highly talented Guy Manoukian. I was actually watching a TV interview with him earlier today. And was impressed to know that the successful pianist and composer is from my generation and had already made it big in the music scene. In addition to his global success.Guy explained that the unique sounds he makes are a blend between oriental music from the region (Persian, Middle-Eastern, North-African) and modern house rhythms.  Mostly I liked his inspirational words that said how being successful and realizing your dream has nothing to do with your nationality or ethnic background or culture. But all to do with your talent and efforts in following your dream and never giving up.

I was being carried away with the miniature dessert delights from The Ivy and enjoying my deliciously warm sticky toffee pudding, when OneRepublic had got on stage. Luckily, I managed to get back to our secured spot at the grass on time just as the show had started.

I was glad that they performed their famous hit singles such as “Stop and Stare”, “Apologize” and “Good Life”. While at the same time being disappointed that they didn’t sing the wonderfully composed and written “Say”. Which I think would have been a great song for a Valentine’s day concert more so since it is a very sentimental and emotional song.

Another down side was the fact that the show ended at around 11:43 while we all expected it to last until 12 as it was mentioned in the program booklet.

Nevertheless, we had a remarkable night at the festival park. The weather was amazing (as OneRepublic have declared that too), the snacks at the venue were exceptional, the event was well-organized, and the performance was brilliant.

As the night came to an end, most of us were still walking around wrapped in our soft and warm red blankets as we made our way to take the big bus tour shuttle bus back to the mall.  Indeed, it was an enjoyable night characterized with a wonderful ambiance, great music and most importantly:  love was in the air!

If you missed OneRepublic’s show last night, don’t worry. As they announced that they are having a world tour in April and are 100 % coming back to Dubai! (those were their words, I am just quoting them).

For now, enjoy listening to one of my favorite tracks by the sensational band:




It was a Snowy Night at Yas Island!


After reading online that the Kanye West concert will be arctic-themed and that twenty snow machines were set up at the venue to dispense snow at the show, I decided to take a winter jacket with me to the show and re-live my London winter days…plus, my jacket could use some air after being stowed in my closet for ages.

To confirm my decision to bring along heavy clothes, on the day of the show, I hear a DJ on the radio advising listeners to take a jumper or a jacket to the concert as it will be a cold night with all the “snow” that will be around.

So me and my friend headed off to the concert well-prepared in our heaviest winter jackets and scarves. Add to that my friend wearing a winter cap and me regretting not getting one to protect my head and hair when the snow falls down!

Luckily, we arrived just as Kanye was about to go on stage. We enjoyed being in the not so packed hip-hop and rapper wanna-be crowd. It was a fun night for people watching. As there were a lot of rapper and gangster dressed teens and tweens…That didn’t stop us from being ones ourselves as we practiced our best hip-hop gestures and dance moves.

I must admit that I didn’t know many of the songs that Kanye sang that night. I heard his track “Clique” on the radio on the same day and that gave me an extra hit to dance and sing along to. I was looking forward to hearing his hit single “Love Lock Down” – a favorite track of mine for him- and I was disappointed that he didn’t sing it. I guess that is the type of hip-hop that I can get attached to. Not the heavy rap and hip-hop style found in his more recent numbers.

Each song at the show had a different theme projected on the big screens, with nature and landscape visuals. When the arctic theme was on, the snow machines started blowing fake snow at a certain area of the venue. Contrary to our expectations of a European-like winter snow and cold breeze, we were amused to find out that the mini snow balls were made out of plastic! and accordingly there was not a slightest winter draft associated with the mild snow fall!

Despite our minor climate surprise, we had a good time chilling to Kanye’s rhythms until we suddenly experienced an end to what was our uber cool night at the extremely comfortable Du Arena bean bags. Not only has the show come to an abrupt end after only an hour and a half of Kanye’s magical voice, we were also asked to get off of our comfy bean bags by the venue staff as they came to collect them from the spot!

When we complained to them that the show has ended so fast, they consolidated us by saying that we could lounge on them at the next show 🙂

I suppose we could have enjoyed listening to more of Kanye’s urban hits. As well as some extra time chilling on the bean bags, gazing at the stars, and making the most out of Dubai’s cool winter breeze.





My favorite Kanye track:


Till the next big show, stay cool and keep watching this space…

Soulful Jamming Under the Stars…


Having grown up in this region, I have always been a huge R&B and soul music fan. So when I heard that Macy Gray; the super cool American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, record producer and actress is coming to town, I was ecstatic and made a trip to the other end of town to get my tickets before they were sold out, and to guarantee my attendance.

The venue was packed with fans of the singer or folks simply wanting to have a good time in the garden where the stage was set up. Me and my friends were lucky to find a place to sit near the stage and shared a delicious and juicy burger and hand-cut thick fries. The weather was pleasant for a night out and the atmosphere was just right.

Macy entertained us with her usual slick groove and ultra cool vibe. She and her back-up singers were simply fabulous…they put up a casual, yet highly fascinating performance, filled with soulful moves and creative ways to engage the fun-loving crowd.

Famous for her deeply appealing witty style and character, the singer graced the stage in beautiful outfits. One of them a sparkly sequined red dress from the 60’s era. The second was another charming vintage number with chiffon and a stunning layered puff to it.

After performing a good number of songs, Macy and her band said their good-byes to us, leaving some of us wondering if this was a joke and the rest screaming out for “more”, before she came back on stage once again to perform her famous international hit single “I try”. The hit sparked a huge burst of life and energy in the crowd, as we were all singing along to the top of our lungs:

I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it’s clear
My world crumbles when you are not here

You can sing along too by playing this link:

To Macy – the soulful diva with the warm distinctive voice – and her lovely band:

Thank you for the epic performance, positive vibe, and most importantly; for the powerful and strong messages supporting world peace, love and personal freedom.