The Oud-Player of Jerusalem

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The musical instrument known as the oud (aka moorish guitar) is a big part of Palestinian culture. It’s an instrument which has a history extending as far back as five thousand years, and it’s considered the father of all Arabic string instruments.

I hunted high and low to find someone in Jerusalem who could play it, but I had no luck. There were plenty of stalls in the market which had ornamental ouds for display, but not the actual instrument itself.

Towards the end of my stay, I finally found my oud player whilst walking in the maze-like concrete jungle of the market. I spotted the oud straight away because it was larger than all the other props I had seen before.

I approached the shopkeeper and exploded with glee at having finally discovered an authentic oud. After reciting some random snippets from a Mahmoud Darwish poem which is accompanied by an oud instrumental, the shopkeeper, Waheeb who tells me he learned to play at university for 6 months, smiled quietly, sat down, and gave me a private performance then and there.

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