Reverberating Melodies


Nurray Sattar
Nurray Sattar

A new generation of singers and musicians is reviving the golden era of music through talent

By Tabassum Vally and Ghazala Tikki Zaman

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Published: Sun 14 Aug 2022, 12:00 AM

Pakistan, a country rich in culture, and a land where several ethnic languages are spoken, lending itself historically to both ethereal and earthy music. There is music in the soul of every Pakistani, be it a Sufi kalam, a Tumhri, traditional qawwali or lyrics from a favourite movie.

In recent years, the world has shown great interest in Pakistani music and Dubai has been a favourite destination for many Pakistani singers who have enthralled their audiences with their captivating songs.

With a big Pakistani community in the UAE, it is no surprise that many Pakistani singers perform regularly in Dubai. Though some are renowned singers, there are many independent new singers who have received recognition in the UAE. A melody from home is undoubtedly cherished by the Pakistani community, and over the years many singers have gained recognition in the UAE.

Pakistan has seen many women singers since the early 1950s. The enthralling voices of legendary singers like Noor Jehan, Abida Parveen, Nayera Noor are just a few names in the long list of singers who have mesmerised their audiences with haunting melodies. Their songs are known in many households even across the borders.

The large expat communities in the UAE from Pakistan and India have rendered a large audience for Pakistani singers and Dubai has offered many opportunities for young talent from Pakistan to perform and to present their work outside their own country.

Many members of the UAE local community also have an understanding of the Urdu language and enjoy music from their countries like Pakistan. Recent years has seen an influx of many new and independent singers and though their journey has not been easy, they have produced many captivating albums, which have become popular across borders. Previously, there was a dearth of music academies in Pakistan, but now, with more keen learners and vocal talent, there has been a revival in the music industry with new academies offering lessons.

A lot of progress has been made in the music industry. Though western music continues to leave its imprint, there has been a revival of interest for ethnic music. Though fusion music is now popular, the music enthusiasts still show nostalgia for old music, be it classical or Sufi music from the past.

Realising a shift in preference for fusion music and remixes of old songs, many songs are being reintroduced from the past era of 50s and 60s. The thought behind the revival has been mostly to build interest of the younger generation in old lyrics and timeless pieces, sung by legendary artists. This has surely swayed the present young singers to preserve the older songs in the form of remixes thus attracting the younger generation.


Nurray Sattar, a name not new in the music industry, talks about her trial and tribulations in her musical journey. Sattar comments on her early pursuit of music when it was not considered a desirable option for women. Sattar started her musical journey in Karachi by joining the Tansen Academy. Sattar is an independent singer who has vowed to keep the tradition of old music and songs alive. She has performed in Singapore, Bahrain and Dubai. Sattar is passionate about music and her love for music was inculcated in the culturally rich cities of Lahore and Karachi. From a young age, she showed a keen ear for music, which led her to pursue music in Pakistan and Singapore.

Sattar is a champion of women’s rights and she joyfully commented on the changing attitude of a once conservative society of Pakistan, where women were not encouraged to pursue creative fields. She went on to lament the loss of the untapped talents of during the days when music was not considered a socially accepted career for women.

“Music industry in the past was not seen as a desirable choice in the conservative society of yesteryears, but today the Pakistani society is evolving and women are making their own career choices and opting to make their mark in acting, singing, producing and directing movies, television plays and music,” she said.

Sattar sees the future of music in Pakistan as bright and is optimistic about younger women coming into the music industry. She commented on her passion and interest in Sufi music. Infact, it was her Sufi songs that made her popular initially. She recited many Sufi Kalams, which were well received in Singapore, Bahrain and Dubai. She later experimented with different music mediums and this led to the compilation of her album in 2014, which was called ‘Jogni’ meaning conversations with the Creator.

Sattar has also compiled an album as a dedication to some forgotten songs from the past. She gave them a new life by giving them a modern twist. The album not only gained recognition in Pakistan but made a great impression overseas as well.

“We owe it to our legends, to keep them alive through their songs. It will be a pity if the new generation is not reminded of these legends,” added Sattar.

Commenting on her performances in Dubai, she said that her experience was mesmerising as she acknowledged the response from the expat community who showed gratitude and appreciation for her efforts in reviving the old music of Pakistan. “Over the years, Dubai has attracted many talents from across the world and the pace at which it has evolved culturally is remarkable,” said Sattar. She added that it offers great opportunities for senior and amateur artists to perform and showcase talent from their countries. Sattar hopes to continue her musical journey and to continue her performances in Dubai.

Asees Arshad
Asees Arshad


“I moved to Dubai in 2018, and as of today, Dubai has made me a star.” Asees Arshad, a young independent singer from Pakistan, is very much a part of Dubai’s entertainment industry. From an early age, Arshad showed an interest in music, which later encouraged him to pursue music and participate in a reality show at the age of thirteen. Arshad pursued his journey in music with many music professionals and in a very short time, mastered the art of singing and music. He commented on the dearth of academies in Pakistan and the trial and tribulations of a young country like Pakistan that is still grappling in the field of music.

“Being a creative musician, I always wanted to create something meaningful and original of my own,” he said. Arshad fulfilled this dream in Dubai, where he performed seven hundred shows in a period of four years. His most favourite and memorable experiences are the evenings spent singing at one of Dubai’s elegant and popular restaurant, New Castello.

Dubai is home to many nationalities and it is the second home for an extensive Pakistani expat community. People here demonstrate a diverse taste in music and enjoy musical performances in many languages.

When Arshad moved to Dubai in 2018, he knew very little about the world of music that awaited him. He became a part of a regular band and in a matter of few performances, he started to get appreciation and was given recognition by his audiences.

The future of music in Pakistan, in his opinion is influenced by many factors. Religion, culture, diverse norms and western influences are all very much prevalent and sometimes can be an impediment in the progress of music.

However, Dubai offers many opportunities to independent musicians as the society is more multi-national and diverse. The multiple music academies and institutions that provide music classes and coaching in Dubai are now producing many talented musicians and singers.

Currently, Arshad is working on twenty four singles. In his series of songs, his first song ‘Jaan Lay Gaya’, has already released worldwide and has met with great success. Arshad’s main focus in all his songs has been on showing his versatility as a vocalist in creating the connection between creativity and aesthetics of music.

Arshad ‘s biggest inspirations in music have been none other than the great maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Michael Jackson. Both created very different music but Arshad’s keen ear for music developed an interest in their diverse works. There is no doubt that there is music in Arshad’s soul and that he has a great future ahead of him both in his home country and in Dubai.

Music is all powerful. A soothing tune, a melodious voice or the beating of drums and heavy metal, all have a profound effect on a person’s mood. A happy tune immediately takes one away from the harder realities of life, whereas a sad song can move tears in a happy soul.

Pakistan has had its challenges with art and culture but recently, many young artists have revived the joy of music. The new music academies are providing great platforms for young independent singers and it can be safely said that Pakistan will continue to set its mark in the music industry.

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