The Man Behind the Music

by BTM

Wed, 05 September 2018

The Man Behind the Music

Musical medic Dr Hazem Al Rawas tells Liz O’Reilly about his journey from his Syrian homeland to the musical scene of Bahrain.

When you spot Hazem entertaining at one of the Bahrain nightspots where he regularly plays guitar, it’s easy to be transported away by the sounds of his rich and heady mix of Andalusian rhythms coupled with Arabic and Turkish influences. 

The base of Flamenco, which he learned as a teen, is unmistakable but your mind and ears will become enthralled working out what else you can hear, not necessarily paying too much attention to the musician who’s producing this glorious noise.

But behind Hazem’s easy smile and hugely talented hands lies quite a story. Now 31, and originally from Damascus, he left his home to study medicine in Lebanon at the American University of Beirut. But when the War broke out in 2006, the situation became precarious and he was forced to leave.

He says: “I was looking at options and, through the culture and reputation, I decided on the RCSI Bahrain. I graduated in 2012 and, I must admit, during my university years I didn’t really focus on the guitar. I did go along to talent nights just to jam but I wasn’t making my own music.

“To be honest, I always loved medicine. I wanted a way to give back and help people and my father was the one who fostered this in me. From a very young age, I would always have science books, skeletons and a stethoscope.”

He is extremely grateful to Bahrain for giving him the chance to continue his medical qualifications and now considers the island home. For Hazem, the Kingdom is a source of inspiration in both cultural and artistic fields. 
For this reason music was always in the background and now, after several years working in medicine, he is keen to get back to his musical roots.

Still keen on helping, though, he sees it as a kind of therapy, explaining: “My way of approaching it is that my talents are a gift from God and I’m very thankful that, as a doctor and as a musician, I can reach people’s hearts and deliver a message of happiness, positivity and inspiration. Whatever challenges you face, you have to believe that you can overcome them and that you’re special.”

For the next few months he’ll be playing regular sessions at Play, Oliveto and Upstairs Downstairs, concentrating on his musical career as he makes plans to join his brothers in Europe to specialise in internal medicine.

He concludes: “I want to improve myself and share my music with people. I’m so grateful that the style I’ve developed has been well received; the love has been amazing. The future is both medicine and music – both are very important to me. I’ve been getting requests from DJs and producers to play with them, which is something new that I’m enjoying. I’m just really happy and grateful to be able to keep developing in two areas that I love.”

I wanted a way to give back and help people and my father was the one who fostered this in me.”