Malika Omar is an award-winning classical and fusion pianist whose performances have enchanted clients and audiences ranging from the rulers of the United Arab Emirates to Warner Bros. She also composes music for short films and documentaries and is a five time nominee for Best Local Music Act at the Ahlan! Best in Dubai Awards. The Hikaayat Team caught up with Malika to discuss success, giving and being a Muslim creative.
H: We know you as an incredible pianist who has received numerous awards in the Middle East and South Africa, including Maserati 1 of 100 personalities from Shanghai, Milan, New York and Dubai as well as 1 of 100 Young Mandelas of the future 2019. All incredible achievements, congratulations! How would you describe
MO: Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m truly grateful for everything I’ve achieved, but I’ve definitely not done it alone. Loved ones, teachers, colleagues and advisors have been a valid contribution to my success.
I’d describe myself as a free spirit, but anchored in the Islamic values I was brought up with. That spills into my work: as ambitious, creative and confident as I try and be, I’m continuously grateful for the humility that I’m reminded of when thinking of the Creator.
H: How do you feel your experience of living in the Middle East and specifically the UAE has shaped you?
MO: The Middle East was the perfect canvas for me to become the person I am today. The UAE is a magic carpet full of threads from different nationalities and cultures and that inspired me to be creative and open-minded, both as a musician and as a person. Dubai is the perfect marriage of tradition, Islamic living and modernity and, as a young Muslim in a modern world, it definitely helped me connect even more to my faith.
H: You’ve placed a lot of importance on giving back. For you, personally why is this important?
MO: I was brought up in a home where we were always made aware of how grateful we should be for our blessings and that we should share those blessings with others. My intention for my music is to help heal those who need healing and any work/awareness I spread for particular causes is to encourage people to think along the same lines. Healing with art and talking with purpose are two of my life goals.
H: Tell us about the projects you’re involved with and if there is any scope for others to get involved.
MO: I’m a massive supporter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a non-profit, non-political NGO that aids children with medical care. I’d suggest everyone check out www.pcrf.netfor the amazing work they do. The organisation is incredibly transparent with where your donations go and keep every donor up to date with the young patients’ progress. If you are a doctor/surgeon, I’d suggest contacting the PCRF if you are keen in providing your services to the children of Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East.
I’m currently a friend of the United Nations World Food Programme initiative ShareTheMeal and I’m grateful to all of those who have contributed to over 3600 meals and donations to children, women and families from Gaza, to Yemen, Ghana, Congo, Mozambique, refugees in Lebanon, South America and Rohingya refugees to name just a few appeals.
Please join my ShareTheMeal family by clicking the link on my bio on my Instagram account @malikaomarofficial. Every single meal/donation made to a beneficiary goes directly towards WFP vouchers or WFP entrepreneurial projects to help those in need.
Thanks for your support in advance!
H: As a Muslim female creative, what have been the major challenges and triumphs?
MO: A Muslim woman in the creative arts has been challenging, but also incredibly gratifying. I’ve always stood by my faith and morals and never had to change to fit into any box. I’ve always been surrounded with good support and my beliefs are strong, so I’m grateful for my trust in God and my loved ones. When one door doesn’t open, another does and leads to something more beautiful. A bad experience leads to the blossoming of a magnificent part of yourself that you never knew existed. So, there are triumphs in these challenges!
H: What do you hope your legacy to be?
MO: When I was younger, there was never anyone like me: very creative, quirky, outspoken, but very much unmoving when it came to Islamic principles. Everyone was one extreme or another, so I promised myself that I’d always be true to myself and hopefully that would encourage someone else who felt that, that they were not alone. That’s my legacy; that Malika reminded you that you need to be true to who you are, but faith/religion/a belief in something Greater than us is what makes our foundation.
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