UAE-based singer wants to make music about shared human experiences

The Syrian sensation Ghaliaa Chaker opens up about what inspired her to be a part of the impactful anthem 'Rajieen' that addresses the ongoing war in Gaza and her musical mission

By Sugra Khanwala

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Published: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 5:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 11:31 PM

UAE-based Syrian artist Ghaliaa Chaker, 25, was surrounded by instruments instead of toys in her childhood. Recognising her musical talent, her parents introduced her to the tambourine, drums, and keyboard at an early age, and thus began Ghaliaa’s musical journey.

Music, often described as a universal language, holds a special place in Ghaliaa's heart. She believes in its power to transcend boundaries, evoke heartfelt emotions, and connect people across cultures and generations. This belief is reflected in her latest song, Rajieen, a collaboration with 25 talented artists from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The anthem serves as a poignant expression of resilience, resistance, and the desire to ‘return home, return to one’s land’. More than just a musical creation, it is a humanitarian endeavour with all proceeds from the song and video going to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

Reflecting on the genesis of Rajieen, Ghaliaa expressed “pride”, emphasising how everyone felt vulnerable while making it. “This project is something I will forever be proud of because it happened at a point where everybody felt so vulnerable. We wanted to speak up. We wanted to share with the world our pain," Ghaliaa said as she recalled a pivotal moment when producer Nasir Bashir, a Jordanian, reached out to her with an invitation to contribute to an anthem dedicated to those enduring the hardships of the war in Gaza.

And without thinking twice, Ghaliaa immediately embraced the opportunity, flying out of UAE to join the project, completing the recording and shooting within 48 hours.

The project resonated with Ghaliaa Chaker’s personal experiences, bridging her Syrian roots with her UAE upbringing.

Beyond Rajieen, Ghaliaa envisions herself as a part of more projects that address global issues. Her artistic endeavours are driven by a commitment to utilise her talents for meaningful causes.

“Personally, I try to do my best. I try to respect people I work for and work with. I try to respect the environment I live in as well. It's all really about trying your best; it's all really about being honest, authentic, true to yourself and standing up, speaking up because it's all going to come back," she says.

A multifaceted artist, Ghaliaa who finds solace in her songs, began her professional musical journey at the age of 16. Performing in multiple languages, including Arabic, English, French, Turkish, Armenian, and Spanish, Ghaliaa says her degree in strategic broadcasting and mass communication has further enriched her ability to communicate effectively.

When asked about music's power to change perceptions and its ability to bring about a positive change, especially in the context of Rajieen, Ghaliaa expressed hope, saying, “I hope it does. I really hope it because if it didn't, then why are we doing it?”

Ghaliaa’s musical palette, which fuses RNB, HipHop, electropop, Indie, and Jazz is a reflection of her pre-creation ritual that involves extensive journaling. “You take it or leave it,” she adds, describing how she believes her music is – unfiltered, raw and authentic.

Rajieen isn’t Ghaliaa's only venture into addressing significant issues through music. Previously, she has contributed to causes close to her heart, and her home. She penned a lullaby for children in Syrian refugee camps, a project that continues to resonate deeply with her.

“I'm still hung over that project to be honest, because one, it's my people, and two, I am not being able to do anything more, you know? And there's always this feeling of guilt where you want to do more, but you don't know how," she confides.

While Ghaliaa remains haunted by the desire to do more, she emphasises the responsibility of using her platform for a greater purpose, and encourages everyone, regardless of social media following, to use their platforms responsibly.

“Whoever is on social media, I would say, even if you have like a hundred followers, it doesn't matter. Honestly, it's a platform that we have. It's a gift from God to communicate." she asserts.

The singer and songwriter believes that regardless of religion or ethnicity, we are all human, and raising our voices is the least we can do.

“If I could write a lullaby in 120 languages, I swear I would," Ghaliaa concludes, as she encapsulates her philosophy that transcends musical notes and talks about shared human experiences.

Ghaliaa Chaker's mission is clear: to utilise her opportunities to the fullest, responsibly, and to stand in solidarity with those in need. In her own words, "It's honestly humanity. That's what matters."

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