Alternative Musician from Jordan wins International UNESCO Prize

الخميس 27 أيلول 2007

Local musician Ruba Saqr receives the UNESCO prize for ‘best performance bridging traditional and contemporary traditions’ at the sixth annual international music festival in Samarkand late last month (Photo courtesy of Ruba Saqr) - JT
“For Ruba Saqr, even the most unconventional dreams can come true,” a recent Jordan Times article started off. The newspaper’s reporter called me the day after I sent a short announcement saying I just came back from Uzbekistan after representing Jordan at the Sixth International Music Festival of Samarqand. I performed three of my originals the 2nd night of the Festival, and on the 4th night – on August 30, 2007 – I was awarded the UNESCO Prize for Best Performance Bridging Traditional and Contemporary Traditions.

I went there as a solo singer/songwriter from Jordan, accompanied by my companion and friend, my black acoustic Fender guitar. It was a magical moment, singing at a venue that took one back hundreds and hundreds of years… to times when Sufis used to chant mantras at the Madrasas (schools) surrounding the Registan Square.52 nations from around the globe took part in the festival and turned the Registan Square into one of the world’s most interesting musical souks. They played folk and ethnic music that reflected their various musical cultures. Some groups played fusions that married elements from their traditional music with western influences.The Mongolians, for example, gave an energetic and surprising act where they played a special blend of heavy metal, Mongolian tunes accentuated by instruments I have never seen before, and a dynamic beat that made the blood rush through the veins.Another one of my favorite acts was the Kenyan performance.

Third-place winners in the traditional-music category, they played tunes of sadness and nostalgia mesmerizing the audiences with their singer’s enchanting voice (Winjo), the guitar/bass-guitar playing of Isaac, and the percussion beats of Moses. I jammed a couple of times with the Kenyans and we had great fun fusing our styles of music only to come up with an interesting blend of African passion mixed to taste with Alternative Arabic singing.After the awards ceremony, the 300 musicians from all around the world came back to the hotel, and engaged in what was the most interesting part of the Festival. Afghanis, Germans and Tunisians jammed with musicians from Turkmenistan, Alaska, Indonesia, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and many more countries. It was interesting to see how people from different cultures, who spoke not-too-many languages in common, where transcending everything conditional and entering the holy place where music reigned supreme.It was one of my dreams to be part of such a rich and interesting musical event; I am forever grateful that I had lived to see it happen!

Also check out an article about Ruba on

Ruba Saqr (Photo by Razan Fakhoury)
Posted by: Ruba Saqr