Expressing gratitude in song for being Emirati

A recent decree extending Emirati citizenship has prompted one young beneficiary to compose a song of praise.
Ziyad Abdul Kadir Matar, left, and his brother Assad. Silvia Razgova / The National
Ziyad Abdul Kadir Matar, left, and his brother Assad. Silvia Razgova / The National

When Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced a decree granting citizenship to children of Emirati mothers married to foreigners, it was a dream come true for Ziyad Matar.

Born to an Emirati mother and Somali father, the singer-songwriter decided to show his gratitude by releasing the song Proudly Emirati, produced by his family.

"Me and my family were extremely happy and wanted to do something to show our deep gratitude to His Highness. With me being a musician and my brother's flair for poetry, we agreed a song would be an ideal way to express this," says Matar, who formed the band Zihab in 1998 and released a rap album, Zihab 2000, which sold more than 20,000 copies.

The song Proudly Emirati, initially meant only as a gift for the President, was released at the end of May in Arabic.

Matar now hopes to appeal to a wider audience when the chance to produce a video with English subtitles presents itself.

"It was delivered to the Ministry of Presidential Affairs in Abu Dhabi. However, encouraged by positive feedback from friends and family, we delivered the song to the Emirates Media Establishment and TwoFour54 Ibtikar for further exposure," says Matar.

The new law, he says, has changed the family's life for the better, with benefits such as government-subsidised health care, education and social benefits, scholarships and employment aimed at Emiratis, thereby "increasing our opportunities in life" by "prioritising the rights and welfare of citizens".

His older brother Assad wrote the lyrics of the song with input from Matar, who composed and supervised the production, financed by their mother Jawhara D Abdulla.

"Once the song was delivered to the Emirates Media Establishment, someone from the Media Security Department contacted us, spoke with my mother to know more about her and our family, and to thank us for our gift," he says.

Matar is currently working on a new song for the forthcoming 41st UAE National Day. "I hope to revolutionise Middle Eastern music in many aspects. I see myself as a revolutionary artist," says Matar.

To listen to the song, visit YouTube or

For a special recording of the song for The National, visit our multimedia page online at

Published: August 1, 2012 04:00 AM


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