Organisers of the third edition of the Katara Oud Festival, which concluded on Friday, can take pride in the fact that the four-day event gave a unique opportunity for oud lovers from around the world to enjoy the performances of some of the best oud players from Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Oman, Greece, Yemen, Syria and Iran. Renowned oud manufacturers such as Yacoub Jassim from Kuwait, Yasser Saleh from Iraq, Ibrahim Sukkar from Syria, Bars and Farouk from Turkey and Yahia Abulfazel from Iran also participated.
The memorable event attracted a large number of music enthusiasts in general, and oud lovers in particular, from various nationalities. Besides the daily concerts featuring well-known musicians, the festival featured an exhibition and workshops that shed light on the works of oud makers from the participating countries. As the festival director and manager of Sout Al Khaleej Radio Mohamed al-Marzouqi, told Gulf Times, the initiative also gave visitors an opportunity to buy their favourite oud from the maker of their choice without having to travel outside the country.
Opening the festival, Katara general manager Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti had explained that the event was being held under the theme ‘Alkindi’, inspired by the famous Arab scholar and philosopher, Yacoub bin Ishaq al-Kindi. Katara was committed to pursuing its message of hosting and supporting art and culture from around the world. “This is part of our commitment to preserve and enhance this authentic cultural heritage,” he stressed.
The enchanting daily concerts featured 12 musicians performing different kinds of oud melodies. As al-Marzouqi said, the quality of the festival has improved over the years. Also, the audience knows how to appreciate such fine music. Their response to the concerts positively reflects on the popularity and success of the event. As Irka, an Italian expatriate who attended the event said, the festival was amazing in every sense. Living in Doha has taught her to embrace different cultures and enjoy them, including oud music.
The Oud Festival was yet another occasion to reiterate the fact that Qatar is a multi-cultural hub that “opens up and provides room for all in a positive, peaceful way,” as pointed out by Dr Calin Bowell, a paediatrics professor from the UK who is currently working in the country. Oud music has stirred the hearts of those who attended the festival and boosted their spirits. To many the unique music event was an excellent opportunity to visit Qatar. Khalid al-Shati, an oud fan from Kuwait, was one of them and he said he felt totally at home. An Omani oud player praised the diversity of styles at the event while maintaining the originality of oud music. Greek oud maker Dimitris Rapakousios stressed that the festival was one of his favourite places to display his oud creations and sales have been “great throughout the event as the country celebrates diversity and multi-culturalism”.
Oud maker Yehya Esterki from Iran lauded the facilities for participants, noting that the climate-controlled area dedicated to the workshop had a positive impact on both customers and oud makers. Mustafa Zayir, an Iraq composer, oud player and instructor taking part in the festival, said the event had become a favoured destination for the best oud soloists in the world. The 10-year-old Iraqi twins he trained amazed the audience with their performance on the opening night. In short the Katara Oud Festival was a resounding success.