Jordan, UAE, Cross-border
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Encore, Encore!—MENA’s First E-store For Musicians Goes Regional

The eastern cousin of the European lute and the great-granddaddy of today’s guitars, the oud has been credited with healing and even magical powers in Iraq and Turkey respectively. Now, over 5,000 years after it was first depicted (on a Syrian seal), the venerable instrument is celebrating another first: a new, award-winning online outlet based in its home turf.

Feesheh, as this e-market for instruments is called, greatly simplifies the first requirement for making beautiful music new or old: getting instruments into musicians’ hands. As co-founder and CEO Nur Al-Fayez explains, while the Arab World is home to a stellar music scene, “the market does not serve the booming music culture among [its] youth, and the first barrier is obtaining a musical instrument.”

With both cash-on-delivery and installment payment options, Feesheh does away with the red tape that formerly presented a formidable obstacle to ordering from overseas. Indeed, it was frustration of just this ordeal that inspired Al-Fayez and her partner Fahed Farraj, both musicians-turned-entrepreneurs, to create the start-up in Jordan two years ago.

But the brand’s vision “goes beyond solely selling instruments not easily obtained offline,” Al-Fayez says, aiming further “to become the ultimate platform to empower youth and encourage music as a constructive form of self-expression.” Its regional launch in Dubai last month put Feesheh well on its way to achieving this goal. After closing an investment round from angel investors plus its first seed investor, Oasis500, and UAE-based strategic partner Silicon Oasis Founders, the start-up hit yet another high note on May 9, when it won first place in the Jordanian round of Seedstars’ start-up competition.

The award guarantees it a place in the global finals next February. In the meantime, Feesheh’s Youtube channel is now offering musical treats, and the first instrument up is—you guessed it—the Iraqi oud.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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