Edmonton·Video

Edmonton musician pens welcome song for Syrian refugees

Over the next few weeks, it seems likely that some Syrian refugees who arrive at Edmonton International Airport will be greeted by local musicians singing to them in both Arabic and English.

'Music is the universal language,' says singer/songwriter Mohsin Zaman, who grew up in the Middle East

Edmonton musicians hope to welcome refugees with a song

7 years ago
Duration 1:59
To greet refugees coming to Edmonton, Mohsin Zaman assembled a group of musicians to play for the refugees as they arrive at the airport.

Over the next few weeks, it seems likely that some Syrian refugees who arrive at Edmonton International Airport will be greeted by local musicians singing to them in both Arabic and English.

The idea for the multi-lingual, musical welcome came from the mind and creative spirit of singer/songwriter Mohsin Zaman, who grew up in the Middle East but now calls Edmonton home.
Mohsin Zaman, right, and more than two dozens friends and fellow musicians got together Sunday to rehearse the welcome song at Knox Evangelical Free Church. (CBC)

Inspired to do what he could for people fleeing civil war, this week he wrote a song called Marhaba, Marhaba, which translates as Welcome, Welcome.

He posted about it on Facebook, and on Sunday more than two dozen people came together to rehearse the song at Knox Evangelical Free Church on 104th Street.

"Music is the universal language," Zaman said. "That's how I met all my friends in this city. So, I'd like to pass it along."

Born in Pakistan, Zaman lived for years in the United Arab Emirates before he moved to Canada in 2008. He has been in Edmonton for the past two years.

He said as an immigrant himself, he understands that moving to a new country is never easy. Especially for those who've seen so much violence and bloodshed.

Singer/songwriter Mohsin Zaman grew up in the Middle East but now calls Edmonton home. (CBC)
He wrote a song he hopes will make the newcomers feel welcome, and he and his friends plan to sing it at the airport the first chance they get.

The verses are written in English, the chorus in Arabic.

Zaman said he hopes the song will help make the transition easier for people who will step off an airplane and find themselves in an entirely different world.

"We're surrounded by bad news every day," he said. "So, here's a little good news."

Cory Bosse was at Sunday's rehearsal, playing banjo and singing harmony.

He hopes the song resonates not just with the refugees but with people who may be a little fearful about seeing so many newcomers from a war-torn part of the world.

"The most important thing about is, that it's going to be a bright welcome, hopefully, for people who have come from somewhere where they've had a lot of difficulty," he said.

It's important for the refugees to know there are many Canadians who want them here and will do whatever it takes to help.

"Remembering that they're just people is maybe the most important perspective," he said.

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