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THE ongoing French military intervention in Mali has not only saved the defenceless West African nation from almost certain complete occupation by marauding foreign terrorists and jihadists, it has also rekindled a debate on the risks and costs of Africa's dependence on international charity for survival. With many developed countries facing both biting economic difficulties and growing donor fatigue of their electorates, and with African countries by and large still mired in destabilising vulnerabilities, it is not premature to begin to ...
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Doha’s rock pioneer

Llewell yn Flores

Doha

HE plays lead, rhythm and base guitar; plays the drums, writes lyrics, arr ranges music and sings. A proper musician one might say; much like the rock musicians of the 70s. Naser Mestarihi was born and raised in Doha to a Jordanian father and Pakistani mother. At the age of seven, he was given the album Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses and after listening to it knew that he wanted to be a rock musicr cian. Naser sees rock music as very infr formative and very serious; music that enlightens. “It could be good time as well but generally speaking it’s got integrity,” he said. “It caters to those who enjoy musical expression and substance.” His first record titled, Naser Mest tarihi EP was released in 2010. In revr viewing the EP, Anthony McGregor of the Rolling Stones Middle East magazine called Naser a “seriously talented musicr cian” and the album “a huge-sounding impressive debut.” The EP happened to be the first rock record to be released out of Qatar.

Growing up in a musically inclined family, he was enrolled by his mother for guitar lessons. Naser said he has “always been to rock n’ roll guitars” but was being taught proper classical music. He quit the lessons and stopped playing the guitar for a while.

But at age 15, Naser started teachir ing himself how to play the guitar and praises the tablature method of learning.

He also watched videos of his favourir ite guitarists for different techniques.

Although Naser feels some people might think it an exaggeration, he says he used to practice about six hours a day. “As soon as I came home from school, I’d be playing my guitar until I went to sleep,” he said. “Progressively the more I acqr quired knowledge regarding the scales I (also) learned how to play by ear,” said the musician who plays Rock n’ Roll revival.

Naser got a Public Relations and Journalism degree from a university, second choice to International Relations, which he opted not to take due to his father’s concern that politics might be too troublesome for him.

“I enjoy politics,” Naser said. “You even hear it on my record; you’ll hear some political messages.” He did work for a well known agency but the appeal of a corporate career was too bland comp pared to his love of playing music.

To him, the common interview questp tion, ‘where do you see yourself 10 years from now?’ is much too complicated and his mental answer is always “I want to be a successful touring musician.” But he sees his degree relevant to being a musician who loves to write and says, “with time I started realising that the knowledge I acquired in PR can actuap ally be beneficial in promoting my music.

It gives you an objective way of thinking and helps you refrain from committing errors.” There is no questioning how much Naser loves music; rock in particular. He always grabs opportunities to do sessp sions with other musicians who might be in need of a guitarist or even a vocalist.

“Whenever there’s a band missing a member I always put myself out there and say ‘I’ll do the session,’” he said. “I will never do it full time (but) it is fun for me and it is an experience. My music is my priority.” According to Naser a million different elements go into making a record. When his second record, an album titled 1987 was being made, he spent more than 14 hours straight listening to music in one of the sessions. “Mentally exhausting but I enjoy it and I love it.” The album will be launched on May 3, 2013 at the Music Room in Dubai. But Naser hopes to be able to do the same in Qatar. “I go around wearing this country and this city like a badge and I say to people I’m a musician from Doha.” Naser said that initially the audiep ence may not be supportive and even be skeptical but he is positive that his band can win them over. Like what happened at the launch of his first record, people started getting into the music by the third and fourth song. “I didn’t even realip ise it until I saw the videos of the gig,” he recalled.

Regardless of his seemingly unwaverip ing dedication to pursuing his dream, Naser was never always certain about his career choice. The paranoia of being too old plagued his mind some time in his journey. “I’m 25 years old, where is this going to go?” was one of the questions he would ask himself. “It was haunting me all the time,” he said.

Asked what paved the way to his becoming a recording artist, he said “I guess there were other musicians in town who started believing in me as well.” And also admittedly, the idea of takip ing up a corporate career as opposed to making music deterred Naser from quittp ting on his dream.

“It’s not about the money,” he said.

“It’s about doing what you love (and) what paved the way was full on persevp verance, never stop playing, never stop believing.”

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