Dubai-based athlete Dareen Barbar raps inspiring life story in 'Basma'

Dareen, who lost a leg to cancer at age 15, raps her life story to inspire those who are struggling physically or emotionally


Enid Grace Parker

Published: Tue 11 Oct 2022, 8:50 AM

Last updated: Thu 13 Oct 2022, 10:45 AM

While Dubai-based Lebanese athlete and activist Dareen Barbar is not a musician by profession, she created her new rap track for an important reason.

In Basma, Dareen, who lost a leg to cancer at age 15, raps her life story to inspire those who are struggling physically or emotionally and encourage them to keep going and not give up, no matter what the odds.

Even though her life was drastically transformed by the loss of her leg, she remained determined to live it to the fullest, eventually earning her fitness instructor and nutritionist qualification and becoming an ambassador of inclusion for people of determination in the UAE.

Dareen - who is married with two kids - has many accolades and accomplishments to her credit including becoming the first Arab Amputee to complete a super sprint in Dubai Women’s Triathlon 2018. In June 2021 she broke the Guinness World Record for the longest Samson’s chair sit, also known as a static wall sit, by a female contender. The new record also made her the first female amputee to hold a Guinness World Record in the Middle East.

No doubt her achievements are a source of inspiration to many and her new track Basma reflects the hope and positivity she wants to send out not only to people of determination but others who are struggling with life as well.

Dareen, in a statement about what inspired her to create Basma, said, “I receive messages from people on a daily basis who find themselves in very difficult situations in life and it breaks my heart; so I felt there was a need to do something new and different...I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to showcase my strength, energy and resilience by telling my story through a rap song and a music video showing people that nothing is impossible in life. Basma reflects everything that I am today, my power and positive energy – I really hope my voice will reach everyone out there.”

City Times caught up with Dareen, who also works as a personal trainer and life coach and is a TEDex speaker, to know more about her new musical direction, the importance of sports in her life, and future goals.

As an ambassador of inclusion, what is it that inspired you to step into the world of music?

As an ambassador of inclusion, it is my mission to employ all my talents and resources to deliver my message to the world and present a strong positive image of people of determination. Besides sports I’ve always dreamed of becoming an artist, since I’ve been playing the guitar and singing as a hobby since I was a kid. That’s why I decided to use this talent to serve my purpose in life.

Tell us the process of making the song and video for Basma.

I contacted Joe Chamoun, a Lebanese songwriter and a rapper whom I follow on social media, and I asked him to write the song. The song was recorded at the Hadi Sharara studio in Lebanon by my brother Elie Barbar, who mixes and masters songs for big Arab artists. He supported me from the beginning.

The video for Basma was filmed in Tripoli, Lebanon with one of the leading directors in the region, Elie El Semaan, and took 16 hours to shoot.

You have many accolades like the Guinness World Record for the longest Samson’s static wall sit; you were also the first Arab amputee to compete in the Dubai Women’s Triathlon. How has sports helped you lead a more focused life?

Sports and exercises build character and help a human being achieve and accomplish his or her goals, it has had a big impact on my wellbeing and is a crucial aspect of my success. It keeps me healthy mentally and physically.

Does fitness play a part in better mental health as well?

Fitness definitely plays a big part in mental health; (it’s been) scientifically proven that it enhances your performance in life and fights depression.

“Disability is an extra-ordinary ability that makes the impossible possible” is your message. At what point in your life did you realize this?

When I started to exercise and felt the change inside out right at the beginning of my fitness journey.

What advice would you give to someone struggling with disability and looking for hope?

Find something that you can control and make it your focus. If we change our thinking we can change our experiences.

How long have you been in Dubai and how has the city inspired your professional goals?

I have been living in Dubai for almost 17 years. This city has opened a lot of opportunities for me. I call it my second home. It has a positive vibe and an optimistic view of the future, that is contagious. Thanks to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai who inspires me personally to prove that impossible is nothing.

The UAE has come a long way in creating awareness about and providing facilities for people of determination. What are your thoughts on this?

I feel so honoured and lucky to live in a country that values human beings and works hard to provided facilities and services in order for us to live with dignity.

You are a wife and mother as well. How has your family supported you and inspired you in your personal and professional journey?

My husband and kids are my priority and whatever I do and achieve, I do it because of their support and love.

Can we expect more music from you in the future?

Yes, of course! I would love to continue what I have started; music heals the soul and inspires people. The world needs healing and inspiration to keep going and not give up.

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