Covid pandemic sparks 'unprecedented interest' for oud in Egypt

Lockdown measures have helped musicians focus on practising

While he waits for his lesson at an Egyptian music school, Maissara Mohammed, 27, plays his oud, its soothing tones dissolving the stress of daily life during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I play four instruments, but the oud is certainly my favourite," the Sudanese engineer says, hunched over the pear-shaped body of his instrument.

The oud, a stringed instrument popular in the Middle East, and whose origins date back thousands of years, is a key element of classical Arabic music.

Its tuning and practice is based on a complex system of Oriental melodic modes known as maqamat.

Long an instrument of accompaniment, it has slowly come out of the shadows since the end of the 19th century.

Mohammed arrived from Khartoum in September to learn the oud at the Kipa music school in Giza, west of the Egyptian capital.

While he could have studied elsewhere, he said he chose Egypt because it was renowned for oud players such as Mohamed El Qasabgi, who composed and performed some of Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum's greatest hits.

Quote
The problem with the oud is that it requires long hours of practise and people usually don't have time

The oud "is an instrument that has its own sentiments and is capable of translating everything inside you," he says.

Coronavirus lockdown measures in Sudan helped him focus on practising, he added.

Kipa opened earlier this year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and has attracted music lovers from all walks of life, according to founder Romani Armis.

Students can learn several instruments including the guitar, the violin and percussion, he said, but the oud has been the most popular, with 25 enrolments.

Though the oud has long been dominated by men, teacher Hagar Aboul Kassem said her students included several young women.

Lessons are also held online, and group classes at the school are limited to two students per room, Armis says.

"Playing music has helped students channel their worries to overcome" this difficult period, he adds.

'Unprecedented interest' 

In the Al-Marg area north of Cairo, Khaled Azzouz, a veteran oud-maker, bustles around his workshop.

"The problem with the oud is that it requires long hours of practise and people usually don't have time," he says.

Azzouz heads the biggest oud workshop in Egypt, producing 750 instruments monthly.

Occasionally, children from the neighbourhood earn pocket money by doing odd jobs at the workshop, such as removing staples from the unfinished oud bodies, Azzouz says.

It supplies the Cairo branch of Beit al-Oud, a specialised school with branches across the Arab world, and exports to 12 countries, from Sweden and the US to Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

Azzouz, who has been crafting the musical instruments for 25 years, says he has observed "unprecedented interest" in the oud during the global health crisis.

But he reveals that a pandemic-related disruption earlier this year of wood imports, including rosewood from India and ebony, mahogany and beech from elsewhere, had slowed down production.

"We make the oud from A to Z ... but Egypt has no forests, so all the wood here is imported," he explains.

Egypt has officially recorded around 125,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 7,000 deaths.

Azzouz says an upside of the virus-related restrictions was that it had helped people find time to practise.

"With the coronavirus, everyone is bored at home," he says.

"People are contacting me online for orders."

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld