My review of 2014

This morning I decided to reflect upon how 2014 was for me. So here I list some of the things that sum up my 2014 very well.


In January 2014, after coming back from an interesting travel, was to found out that in two months time I was going to be jobless. As stressful as it was at the time, I think it was that point that shaped a fulfilling year for me.



In January 2014 I travelled to Sudan to attend a family friend wedding. In fact she is my sister’s best friend and I was blessed to have been invited. We went to Sudan via Istanbul and it was a great opportunity to bond with my sister Fathia. Actually it was the first time we have travelled together, after agreeing on our ten commandment off we went. The wedding and the all cultural parties that came with it was splendid and our friend’s family were hospitable.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of Khartoum as our schedule was very busy but drinking tea along Nile river and listening to Sudanese song while cruising was fun.


After leaving my contract and trying to figure out what to do with my life, I decided to go away for a city break. Initially I was trying to plan a holiday with my friend, we both needed the break so much. However, she got busy at work so just as I was about to put the entire travelling idea aside as non of my friends were available, besides who travel in March, God had a great plan for me.

I have a friend in Aruba so I contacted her to see if I can visit her. She warned me about the cost and the long journey. Somehow something within me was making me believe that I will end up in Aruba within days. God was indeed answering my call, and with family support , I managed to travel across the ocean for a contemplation break.

In my way to Aruba, while travelling from New York I met in the plane an incredible soul. Debbie and her daughter Sydney decided to change their seat and ended up sitting next to me. I am so happy they did as we exchanged great conversations, from discussing love, relationships, education to faith. I managed to visit her last day of my trip.

I had amazing time and Ayesha was indeed a great host, she planned the entire itinerary, after of course she came to terms that I was indeed in Aruba. We watched sunrise and sunset, swam in the Caribbean sea and went for horse riding. She introduced me to her friends and took me to her favourite places.


Dorset – Bournemouth


Yes, I know it is in UK, but going for a family trip to Dorset with my eldest sister Naima, her kids Reem and Arwa and my youngest sister Hala’s daughter Fatima was the highlight of my summer. Despite the coast, the remarkable waterpark and the cafe, what made the trip memorable for me was seeing the kids happy even when it got a little chilly at times.

Somerset – Bath

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On Sunday 22nd of December, three of my friends, Sarah, Wala, Nisreen and I went to a road trip to Bath. We knew we missed out on the Christmas market but we still wanted to go. So upon arrival, we enjoyed a nice brunch then we went for a nice walk exploring Bath by feet. Most of us been to Bath before, but this city is close to my heart, there is something about its architecture, setting and aura that is inviting.

Most of the attractions are all within a short walk of each other, so of course we went to the most iconic attraction of Bath by visiting the Royal Crescent and somehow we started talking about Arabic poetry, I read out loud in Arabic the famous poem of Saeed Bin Ahmed Al-BuSaidi ‘Ya Mn Hawah’ and attempted a literal translation. The poetry discussion was paused to witness a poetic scene at the Pulteney Bridge. We then sat outside Bath Abbey to listen to a guitarist who took us somewhere on top of the mountain with his flawless talent.

We then headed for a nice afternoon Tea over Pulteney Bridge and ended the day with exploring Victoria Art Gallery and shopping.


Me, Hiba and Hanan – Manchester

The most beautiful highlight of 2014 was witnessing my close friend Hanan getting married. I had the most rewarding pleasure of co-managing her wedding. Dealing with suppliers on her behalf and ensuring her memorable day goes as smooth as possible was an honour to do.

With stunning venue, dressed to impress guests and the heartfelt smiles that embraced the air, Hanan with her jaw dropping dress walked down the aisle to her vintage style bridal stage beautifully.

For sure 2015 is exciting as it will gift her union to Rashid Ali to a year anniversary. I wish them utter happiness and love.



Yes I did wake up one morning and simply felt the urge to learn something new that entertains me and challenge me. That something was Oud! The Oud is a short-necked fretless lute which represents the more important and wide-spread instrument in the Middle-Eastern music. I heard of the mastero Ahmed Mukhtar and couldn’t believe how accessible he was. So I sent him an email at early hours of dawn and he replied swiftly.

We have exchanged several e-mails where I shed light that I have zero knowledge in music theory and instrument. Well unless you call early sign of music interest as knowledge! I do recall when I was young that I asked my late father to buy me a keyboard piano. Though, he bought it for me, I was using it as a toy and didn’t really pursue to learn it.

I was in Manchester visiting my friend Hanan Bihi in May where spring and early sign of summer merged; that without any hesitation, I registered myself into 10 weeks beginner Oud course. The hilarious thing was that my randomness meant that the course can actually go ahead as it was cancelled due to not securing the maximum number. I was that lucky number five.

You have to bring your own Oud to the class, but Francesco Iannuzzelli, a teacher at the school, has lend me the School spare Oud until I buy my own Oud. So I contact Hudeidi the Somali mastero of Oud to check if he knows where I can buy one. He invited me to visit him and so I did.  Little did I know that I was to own one of his Oud as I hope someday I will be able to play Somali music using Kaban (Oud). It was so inspirational learning first few Maqams using Oud that Hudeidi once used at his musical event. Sadly, the Oud, didn’t last long with me, it broke, however I will get it fixed someday. Later in the year, I bought new Oud from a former student and it has great sound.

However, though I was attending the classes, my new contracts and voluntary commitments meant I couldn’t dedicate enough time to practice. My teacher, Fadi Al-Naji, once told me that Oud is a generous instrument, the more time you give it, the more it gives you back. After repeating the beginner Oud class, yes I took another 10 weeks , I dedicated two hours and more for practice secessions at home, I learnt he was right.

After completing my second beginner course, I took classes with Julia Ana Katarina to learn music theory. Reading the music notes was always challenging. I decided to colour code the music notes and that helped me to see the notes differently. I also took 1-2-1 classes with the mastero Ahmed Mukhtar to further strengthen my knowledge in Oud and prepare me for 2015 spring intermediate classes.

Sarah whom I met in my first beginner Oud class has helped me alot, from sending me video recording to demonstrate how a song is played to introducing me to Carlos a talented soul who taught Sarah and I over coffee everything we need to know about music theory and notation.  As I write this, it is exciting to know we are actually meeting tomorrow 8th Jan 2015 over coffee to go over music theory.

I met some incredible people and formed everlasting connections and friendships with Sarah, Wala  and Carlos.

So 2014, was the year I learnt how to play most maqams on Oud, developed the necessary skills from positioning my Oud to risha techniques (tremolo, alternate, tiplets) as well as basic Maqams knowledge (Do Ajm, Do Nahawand, Re Hijaz, Re Kurd, Do Rast, Re Bayat, Re Saba, and Mi half flat Segah) and reading music notes. It was also the year where I played in front of an audience at the Taqasim School open day. I played Maqam Bayat and Doulab Bayat. I was so happy to see from the corner of my eye, Fadi smiling, I guess he was proud. Only Fadi understands very well my Oud journey, he saw me grow from zero participation in the class to confidently volunteering to play a piece.



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I bought my first ever bike in August 2014 as I decided during trip to Willowbrook farm in Oxford with Made in Europe that I will take part in their Tour de Salah cycling challenge with my friend Rose.  The challenge is to cycle 70 miles, but being first time rider and with on-going knee injury I didn’t want to set myself to fail, so I motivated Rose to do it with me so we can form a rally group. I made sure I attend every pre-ride session and do as many preparation as possible before the big day. Though I struggled with the pre-ride sessions, on the event day, I really had a smooth ride from Bushy Park to Regents Park.

Other than cycling Boris bike now and then at Hyde Park, haven’t ever cycled on the road before, so I am really grateful to MADE bike ride leaders for inspiring, motivating and believing in me. They all taught me everything I need to know about the road signs and the gears.

I also put together with the help of my friends, Rose, Rooful, Huda and Khalid Quiz for Gaza event fundraiser. It was a warm evening filled with laughter and competitiveness. Thanks to all my amazing friends who attended, shared, donated and laughed.

Since the challenge I have registered to MADE Cycling club where we meet every last Sunday of the month, previously we cycled from Queensway to Southall and from Southall to Uxbridge. I have also took part in the final Christmas light guided ride in 2014 organised by Hounslow Cycling, where I cycled to Brentford to meet the organisers then we cycled to Oxford Street that took in many dazzling Christmas illuminations on the way. After we stopped for a warming drink in a café, we returned through Chiswick to Brentford. Then Brian the ride leader kindly cycled with me all the way home, giving me cycling tips and even gave me a nice looking bike bell as a lovely gift.

I also enjoyed cycling with my nephew Sultan on Christmas day. Though Manar my niece was staying with us over the holidays but she could not join us for the sunny ride as her bike needed fixing.

So 2014 was a year I upgraded myself from pedestrian to a cyclist.

Ramadan Tent 

Photo credit Rooful Ali

I really wanted to attend this social cohesion project as a volunteer. I have supported this project since 2013, however working at the scene, especially if your charity is the sponsor, isn’t the same as volunteering. So I decided to volunteer as many evening as I can, and indeed I had a beneficial time.

The volunteer coordinators were simply what made my experience more enjoyable and rewarding. Amar and Ruman if you are reading this, you are simply awesome. Ramadan Tent indeed shaped 2014 for me to a Ramadan full of ihsaan, productivity and spirituality.

I was so grateful for the company of Rooful, Nisreen and Raabia, our late conversation over coffee/cold drinks sum up my Ramadan beautifully.


Capital Of My Heart

My poetry blog had visitors from all over the world and I posted over 60 poems. Thank you to those who read it, shared it, liked it and commented it. You guys are simply awesome.

It was also this year that I had the most poetic evening with my mentor Bashir Goth. We met in Brick Lane where ethnic patterns embraces trendy Art. We talked about the Somali language, poetry, literature and our exchanged story-telling filled the cafe with warmth. He introduced me to his son Omer and the three of us spent the day together where we went back in time to tour Shakespeare Globe to exploring the world’s knowledge at the British library.

Nicest Job in Britain


2014 was the year I challenged myself to record 45 seconds video application to apply for the National Philanthropy Manager role at Utility Aid. My friends and family both near and far supported my video application, not only they voted, they shared and believed in me. It was a proud moment to be shortlisted out of over 70 wonderfully inspiring applications for the Nicest Job in Britain. I really enjoyed meeting the finalists Karen, Diane, Gemma, Rob, Steph, Luke and Jobe at the Cricket stadium in Birmingham

I was so proud of Luke Cameron who won the job to become National Philanthropy Manager for Utility Aid.

So all of the above sum up the most highlight of 2014, it made me realise how blessed I am to have a loving family, and awesome friends. Of course it was also a challenging year for me. In nut a shell my year started with a contract ending and it ended with closing a charity down. My year also ended with questions mark and there is a frustration you feel when being asked several times ‘so what is your plan now’. I had to breath in and out to calm myself down, after all, I cleared my desk on new year’s eve. I spent new year’s eve with my mum and as fireworks coloured London and the world with hope, mum and I prayed for peace and prosperity.

So, what are your goals for 2015?