As the UAE’s first Emirati female composer, Eman Al Hashimi has already performed for Sheikh Zayed, among other achievements. We sit down with her to talk about spreading hope and creating a musical footprint in the UAE
Tell us about your earliest memories of music…
I’ve loved music since I was a child. My mum actually told me that I rejected dolls and toys, and I was only interested in things that made a sound.
But it’s not me that chose the piano, rather it chose me. I don’t even read music.
I can play any instrument, but not always in the right way – even with my phone I can make sounds.
You performed your own pieces for Sheikh Zayed when you were very young. It must be pretty hard to top that achievement…
I performed for Sheikh Zayed in 2001 while at school; it was a dream come true. I’m now working on composing an opera to celebrate the Year of Zayed.
I’ve also been volunteering with autistic children – whenever I get the chance to work with them, I grab it.
Autistic kids are all born with musical ears; they have incredible talent, and working with them has helped them too.
When I serve my country voluntarily rather than being paid, it’s different. It’s part of being human. When you increase your humanity in a world that has become so cruel, you can find the light inside a few and see some hope.
How do you see the music of the UAE developing in the future?
I believe that music is a language. No matter the accent, there will always be one language that reaches the soul.
Musical style is something that we invented; we’ve evolved music to fit under labels such as classical and rock, so why not invent a new era?
I’m mixing jazz with oud, piano with metal rock. Every music has its own beauty. Imagine far into the future: what will music sound like here in 100 years? I believe that the history of music in the UAE will have completely changed.
As the first female Emirati composer, do you feel that you have a responsibility to inspire a new generation of female musicians?
I feel responsible and proud. I also feel shocked that there was nobody before me. I’ve experienced a lot of obstacles so far, but I have to stand by myself and encourage others to be like me – but I know that in the future this will change.
It used to be only men composing. I feel sure there were a lot of women composing too, but they did not have the courage to share it.
What I want from female musicians here is to stop reading other people’s music and write their own.
Everyone can learn to play the language of Beethoven and Chopin, but the UAE needs to create its own musical fingerprint now.