Like many moms, Tala Badri changed her life for her kids—but she didn’t stop there. Astonished by how violin lessons had transformed her young daughter, then recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, from withdrawn to beaming, Badri made up her mind to share the same joy with Dubai.
In doing so, she created for others something whose lack she’d suffered from. Badri’s first love was music, and she remains the only female Emirati music graduate. But when she found no acceptable musical career in the UAE, she turned to business. There she achieved great success—and yet, as she recalls in her 2010 TED talk, something was still missing.
That something, it turns out, was making music—not only as a performer, but as a pioneer of music teaching, building the infrastructure of a neglected art form. As Badri puts it, “visual arts are actively encouraged among Emirati youth, whereas there is no support for the performing arts.”
Now, thanks to the the Center for Musical Arts, which she founded in 2006, that’s changing. “In these eight years, I’ve seen a great increase in Emiratis learning musical instruments,” she says. “Of course they are of a new generation. 90% of our Emirati students are under 14–the children of my peers. But a change has to begin somewhere, and in 10 years’ time–who knows?”
She thinks this growth is partly due to parents’ increased understanding of “why music is a positive influence on a child’s learning–whether it’s emotional, cerebral or social.” For Badri, it can’t be quantified, only enjoyed. “In the end, transformation by music is a very personal experience–I can only say it has been the case for me as well as my daughter, who has blossomed into a very independent, confident young teenager!”