The Power of Art – Taif al Obeid

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Painting, performance or prose- art and it’s many forms inject a shot of courage and bravery into the artist. It
takes grit and gumption to bare your soul and be judged for your work. But who are the faces that create these
wonders? We talk to those that have mastered the arts and carved a niche for themselves

Taif al Obeid

Kanoon Player

A day before her public debut at Alpen Capital’s Global Fusion concert, 15-year old Taif al Obeid and her father, the very talented Ali al Obeid of the oud, meet me at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Both of them, with two of her younger brothers, have driven in from Fujairah where they live. Taif is the only girl at the concert performing with a host of men stalwarts from the world of music. But the little girl who exudes wisdom far above her chronological age is undeterred. “I am excited. I want to give something of me to the music I play,” she says.

The concert has the likes of stalwarts such as Rahul Sharma, Armenian instrumentalist Georges Kazazian on the oud, Indian musicians Mukund Rajdeo and Umer Farukh playing the tabla and bhapang, Lebanese Jazz artiste Elie Afif, Pakistani Qawwals Abu Muhammad and Ghulam Mustafa and the whirling Dervishes from Konya, Turkey, Huseyin Gurler, Talha Uzunkaya and Muhammed Ali Sahin.

“My father is my life because he loved music so much and that is why I love music,” says Taif. Ali Obeid though never thrust music upon his children but played it all the time so they were interested. At six years of age Taif saw him play and peeped into his rehearsal room when he called her in and taught her the UAE national anthem. A few minutes later when he left the room, he could hear his little daughter dabble on the Bahraini kamaan and was stunned by what he heard. “She had picked it up well,” he adds.

Her love for the kanoon happened eventually. After the kamaan, it was the piano. But four years ago she saw a kanoon player and wanted to learn the instrument. Since the instrument is not largely seen in the UAE, it was brought to her from Egypt and she started training in it.

Ali Obeid finds in her the same passion he had for music since the age of six. My family wasn’t supportive of my oud and there were times that I had to leave the instrument out of my home. With Taif, she has no such issues. Our entire family is very happy that she has this natural talent,” he says. A quick learner, Taif aspires to work with music and art people from across the world. “I want to learn more. I would love to collaborate with musicians from all around the world. I want to give more to my city, my emirate,” she says.

Ask her is she would eventually form an all girl band and she smiles shyly. “Inshallah, it will happen,” she says. Right now she is superbly balancing her studies and music. Practicing time is scheduled to two hours every weekday and four hours every weekend.

And what is her social life? She says she loves watching Bollywood films. “They are full of music and dance and I love them. I loved Dilwale,” she signs off.

By Manju Ramanan