From Gaza to Britain: The Story of a Musician's Journey

From Gaza to Britain: The Story of a Musician's Journey

My name is Reem Anbar, (a 33-year-old) Palestinian residing in Britain and the founder of the Gazelle Band music group.

My story began with a strong friendship that developed between me and the oud over years of interest in the field of music, which formed my personality and helped me build my future.

When I hold the oud in my hands and start playing, I grow wings and look out from its window to see life in a different color. I express myself and heal many scars left by the unstable political conditions in Gaza on myself and the societal pressure to clip my wings, but I did not acquiesce. Instead, I soared higher and bigger with my oud and its strings until I established the band.

I learned to play the oud at the age of eleven from some experts and continued my learning journey on my own until I worked in many institutions in the field of music, theater, and life skills. I participated in Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Britain, and Palestine as a representative of Gaza through my playing. The road that my oud-playing friend and I took was not as smooth as the melodies I played. It was tough and required perseverance, especially when I worked with a music group in Gaza, where I was the only girl challenging society for years as a girl playing the oud in Gaza.

"The Oud Struck" is a male-oriented instrument, according to the majority's perspective. For this reason, it is rare to find a woman playing the oud in Gaza. However, this fact made me more determined to learn and practice it. My mother always supported my passion for music and decided that I should study music abroad since there are no music schools in Gaza. Music and the oud helped me forget the fear and tension I experienced during the three Israeli aggressions I lived through in Gaza.

In addition to that, I decided to leave and work and help the psychologically affected due to the aggression. I worked in schools with children and mothers who lost their homes or family member. It was not easy for me to work and go out during the aggression and wait to see if I would die on my way to work. But we all survived, and those circumstances significantly impacted my memory, the children, and their families whom I worked with.

It was one of the greatest experiences I had in my work, and I acquired more time and love for the children. Music had a significant impact on us. After the aggression ended, I worked with a group of children with special needs. Their problem was a result of the aggression they suffered, and some were born with it. I worked with them in the field of music and theater, and music had a significant impact on them. We worked hard, and we had many ideas to accomplish this goal, try to integrate them, and work on various musical and artistic outputs with them.

I may be one of the minorities in society who has complete freedom, and I have never felt weaker or inferior for being a woman despite societal pressure. However, the support that I received from my family, especially my mother's belief in my talent, planted gardens of roses, and love in my path, made my goal always clear in front of me. I struggled with all my strengths, tried new experiences, learned from them, and reached what I wanted.

My hard work paid off, and now I live in Britain and have established a band called 'Ghazal Band' with my husband's participation. Through this band, we work to promote Palestinian and Arab culture and music, as well as my own music in Britain, its universities, and many foreign countries. My ambition for the future is to convey my message to the whole world, complete my studies in music, and see every woman in my country free from all constraints, dreaming of a future that she can control herself.