Yemeni Teenagers: Talents Prone to Loss [Archives:1999/24/Culture]

June 14 1999

Yemen is rich with human as well as material resources. And our plight is the misuse or bad exploitation of these resources. It is not the material factors that lie behind the development of any society, for the human factor also has an inevitable and pivotal in shouldering the responsibility of modernization and development. In short, 
Yemen has a lot of talents which are not tapped well. Some are discovered by accident and are used as decorations in various festivities. But, when the in authority feel they do not need them, they are disregarded and marginilized completely. An example of this is the talented child singer Muamar Hussein Ali Al-Zuraiqi. Mohammed Hatem al-Qadhi and Imad Al-Saqqaf of Yemen Times Taiz Office met him accidentally in Taiz and filed the following interview with him. 
Q: Could you brief us on your background? 
A: I am 16 years old. I started singing when I was at the elementary school. But, for playing the lute, I was accompanied many singers until I learned how to play it well. I feel very grateful to many singers who taught me and discovered my talent. They made me feel that one day I could be a famous singer. The open-mindedness of my father helped me a lot. Not only that, he used to take me to see the singers so I could learn more and more about the world of singing. 
When I participated in the Al-Jaeza Al-Kubra program in the TV, I was surprised that all my 32 songs could magnetize the audience and hit the big time so quickly. I could create a name for myself. 
Q: Have you ever participated in any competition outside Yemen? 
A: Yes, after that participation in the TV, I was invited to take part in the Arab Child Competition ceremony in the United Arab of Emirates in 1996. There we held competitions for around 21 days. I could go for a top title, for I got the second place in both playing the lute and general knowledge. That was a great success for me for I could show my merit among various Arab children competitors. 
However, I complained against the judging committee for I believe the child who got the first place did not perform better that me. In this regard, I would like to thank Mrs. Najibah Haddad who chose me to represent Yemen in the competition. 
Q: As a talented teenager, what is in your mind about the plight of young talents in Yemen? 
A: The predicament of the Yemeni talents, either children or grown-ups is that they are lacking support and encouragement. In that competition in the UAE, I heard the Shiekh of Shariqa saying that he will construct a village for the talented people to show their merits and talents. That is fine, for any talented person will be able to show himself and his talent to the world. Here in Yemen nobody will patronize you or take care or your talent. Even if one does not perform well, people dishearten him/her. In other words, the artist is not given enough time to polish his/her skill. They want you to be a matchless artist from your first show. Even the Ministry of Culture wants a ready-made artist to enable him to appear on the TV. They are not willing to develop and improve one’s talent. 
Q: What is the role of the Ministry of Culture in this regard? 
A: Nothing of course. It is just a name, but in reality it is not there. If one has some talent and is invited to represent the country outside or does some performance inside, that is fine, isn’t it? But, once he/she is back home or finishes what she/he is asked to do, they tell him/her good-bye. Not only that, before one is chosen for any competition or participation, he has to spend a lot of time and money waiting for the okay of the people in the Ministry of Culture. It is absurd to say that even in this one has to have a wassattah or mediation. This is the first step to dishearten the artist. 
Q: What is your problem as a beginning singer? 
A: For me, I feel I have the ability to sing and also to set songs to music. But I have to wait till the appropriate time. I do not want to do like other singers who flood the market with songs that are not able to attract the attention of the people. I, taking the Iraqi singer Kadem Al-Saher as an example in singing, should start very strongly so as to win the audience and their interest. This will make me live long in the world of singing. In short, I don’t want to be a periodic singer. 
I want to add that the situation in Yemen has taught me not to let my ambitions travel beyond my sight, for the main goal of any talented person in Yemen now is how to keep his body and soul together. However, I promise I will do something laudable in the future. Finally, I feel grateful for the Yemen Times for its attempts to discover the talents in Yemen, giving them a chance to address the public and show their talents as well as plights. 
By: Mohamed Hatem & 
Imad Al-Saqqaf 
Taiz Bureau 
Yemen Times