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.


University Life: Internsme Workshop



If someone has the authority to write a blog post about internships, then I think I would be the ideal candidate. After completing a number of internships in Dubai, I believe that I deserve an award for the best intern ever 🙂

I took up several internships in publishing and advertising, working towards a smooth career change. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. That’s why I’m back to University studying journalism to gain more credibility and learn the essential skills.

When I heard about InternsME, I was delighted to know that there’s an organization that helps students find suitable internships in the area that they are interested in. This concept is a great way to facilitate getting an internship and saves the student a huge amount of time and effort. Especially since media and other creative industries are quite challenging to get into – even as an intern!

Noor, our speaker at the InternsME workshop, gave us two choices for the topics that she could talk about. The majority of us chose the topic of “interviews”. Here are the main five points that I learned from Noor’s talk:

  1. Internships are a great way to meet people from the industry and learn new things. So even if you end up doing a lot of administrative tasks during the internship, don’t forget that at the same time you are making new connections from the industry and learning new things every day.
  2. Internships that offer the best experience are most likely unpaid. When I asked Noor whether the internships at InternsME were paid or unpaid. She explained to us that they offer both paid and unpaid ones. But the ones that offer the better experience and exposure (bigger companies) are usually unpaid.
  3. You should never pay any person or organization to get you an internship. I believe this advise goes for getting employment as well. It’s a well-known fact that you shouldn’t have to pay in order to get a position or to intern at an organization.
  4. In an interview, when asked a question that you can’t think of an immediate answer to, it is fine to tell the interviewer: “I need to think about it for a while.” It’s better to be honest than to be hasty and say the wrong thing.
  5. After the interview, send an e-mail to the person who interviewed you to thank them for their time and end it with: I look forward to hearing from you. Don’t be too assertive and say things like: when will I hear back if I’m successful? They probably still have to interview a number of candidates after you, and will get back to you once they are done with the process.


To register with InternsME and receive updates about internships that match your area of interest, simply go to their web site and fill in your details. I know I will use their services sometime soon. Possibly next semester – when I have less course work load.

Good Luck and have fun interning 🙂


Social Post: My First Opinion Piece!



As many of you know, I’m currently taking an undergraduate journalism course at University. Well, I still need to update my About Page with that piece of information.  It’s just that these days, with trying to juggle between attending classes, assignments, the blog, attending events, catching up with friends and doing mundane tasks like making a sandwich to take withe me to school and then spending a good amount of time washing up the dishes, the task of updating my “About Page” always gets pushed down to the bottom of my list – or should I say lists? I guess that’s another story for another post.

One of the subjects that I’m taking this term is: Politics, Journalism & Society. I’m truly enjoying the lecture discussions on various political and social topics. I believe I’m more into social and cultural issues than I am into political ones.

That’s why, for our first assignment for the unit, I chose to write about a topic relevant to my society and one that is always in the spot light of International media. I wrote about my personal opinion on the ban of driving for Saudi women and what I honestly think about it…and most importantly, why I don’t think it deserves all the media attention that it is given.




Let me present to you: My First Opinion Piece 🙂


Title: My View on the Ban on Saudi Women Driving and Why I think it’s Insignificant


By: Nada Al Ghowainim


Whenever I meet anyone for the first time and they find out that I’m from Saudi Arabia, I usually get asked one of two main questions. The most common question is related to the national dress worn by women in Saudi; the Abaya. People wonder and are even surprised at times at the fact that I don’t wear a head scarf or an “abaya”.


The other question that typically follows the “no-abaya” after-shock is mostly: “So, do you drive here?”


My response to the latter is an automatic reply that I sometimes prefer to keep to myself, primarily in fear of facing the other person’s greatly puzzled facial expression and having to go through a series of complicated explanations and justifications.


For someone who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, driving a car has never been on the top of my “things that I need to fight for” list. That’s why, since moving to Dubai in the year 2010, I haven’t pursued getting a driver’s license or even had that task on my to-do list.


I must admit that relying on a personal driver or a male member of the family to take me from one location to another has its fair share of frustrations and agonies. However, those types of distresses pale greatly in comparison to other daily sufferings faced by all Saudi women.


More complex and deep political, social and cultural issues that women can’t escape from on a daily basis are in my opinion far more significant than the inability to drive a car. An example of those issues is the topic of women’s legal rights in the Kingdom. A Thomson Reuters Foundation report published in September stated that “Saudi Arabia tops the list of countries for laws that limit women’s economic potential, while South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have made the least progress over the last 50 years in improving women’s economic opportunities.”


The laws in Saudi Arabia require women to seek formal permission from their male guardian – be it their father, brother, husband or even son – to study, work, travel or simply go from one place to another. However, there are more serious restrictions that pose a far greater impact on the quality of life than getting behind a wheel does.


Author Abdullah Al-Alami explains these daily struggles that Saudi women face: “There is a group of ultraconservatives here who will try to do anything and everything to prevent women from exercising their rights,” Al-Alami continues by saying: “Be it driving, going to school, working, travelling for that matter, receiving medical care. Many men that I know, we feel that it is crucial for us to support women who do this.”


More importantly, viewing the ban on driving as an extension to other major restrictions imposed on Saudi women will help divert the negative media attention on the topic; where it often makes it seem as the most significant issue facing the country or its citizens.


While a ban on driving does limit the freedom of women in the country, a number of rigid and age-old issues that deal with social, political and economic matters continue to confine both women and men in Saudi society.


Economic issues range from the increasing unemployment rates among Saudi youth, to the poor distribution of wealth and the growing rich-poor gap, to the inadequate infrastructure of even the biggest cities in the Kingdom.


Political and legal issues related to the “male guardian” system have far much greater impact on the lives of Saudi women than the trivial topic of driving a car does. The Washington Post’s foreign affairs blogger, Max Fisher clearly justifies this point in his article published in “The Washington Post” in October.


In comparison to other restrictions facing Saudi women, a ban on driving isn’t necessarily the biggest problem. Fisher elaborates that there are far more important issues restricting Saudi women in their daily lives.


According to Fisher: “It’s part of a larger system of customs and laws that make women heavily reliant on men for their basic, day-to-day survival.”


There’s limited attention given by local media on social issues faced by Saudi women which are directly linked to tradition and the social norms of the country and its people.


Examples of these topics include conventional social norms such as early marriage, arranged marriage, and other pressures that women face in Saudi society. In a society explicitly dominated by men, women can easily find themselves helpless and unable to fight for their simple rights. Women are closely scrutinized over their every move, and immediately judged if it doesn’t conform to the rules set by the society or its controlling male citizens.


In this confining society, simple freedoms that people all over the world take for granted, are non-existent. Having said that, how can one argue for a specific form of freedom when the general and broader restrictions haven’t been lifted? Shouldn’t we ask for more control over our personal freedoms and basic human rights before we ask to be merely in control of a vehicle?


No one enjoys having to be under someone else’s control, let alone a personal driver or a male member of the family, but I believe that there are far too many other causes that deserve our energy and attention besides the call for women driving.



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…