Four Syrian cousins on P.E.I. bring Arabic music to Island

Four Syrian cousins on P.E.I. have formed a band to bring Islanders a taste of Arabic music.

'We just really get nice reactions and nice compliments'

'As cousins we feel really happy when we play together and being with each other,' says Anna Mayaleh. (Pat Martel/CBC)

A group of four Syrian cousins now living on P.E.I. are giving Canadians a taste of their culture through music.

Rami Al Mayaleh and his sister Anna arrived in Charlottetown about a year ago. Hani Mayaleh's family left Syria six years ago. Mounzer Mayaleh has been on the Island the longest, arriving 11 years ago.

The four P.E.I. cousins all play instruments, and recently decided to form their own band.

"It goes great. We get pretty excited reactions," said Hani.

He said the band plays a special song that has become their theme song, called Nassam Alayna el Hawa.

This Syrian band is bringing Arabic music to the Island


5 years ago
This Syrian band is bringing Arabic music to the Island 0:58

He said the title loosely translates into "The wind that blows over us," and the song is one that many immigrants around the world enjoy and identify with.

"It pretty much bonds our family together from a long time ago, and we just keep playing it every occasion we have."

Hani Mayaleh says, 'We like to introduce our kind of music to the Canadian people, let them enjoy it and that's good.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

'It was unbelievably scary and different from here'

The music also keeps the cousins connected to their Syrian roots.

 Anna said she had mixed emotions about coming to Canada.

Anna Mayaleh says, 'I'm happy now on P.E.I. I'm studying for my future. I hope I can go for a visit to Syria.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

"I was of course both happy and sad. Happy to see our uncles here and begin a new life, but of course we miss our family there and friends," she said.

"It was pretty frightening, to be scared about people around you, and about people you know, but we hope it gets better."

Mounzer Mayaleh says, 'Here are some people here who like to be introduced to our Arabic cultural music we play.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

Mounzer often speaks to his relatives on Skype, and decided to accompany his father back to Syria two months ago.

"It was unbelievably scary and different from here. You can't risk going outside and hanging out. There's bombs around you all the time," he said.

The band plays local benefits to raise money for Syrian refugees. (Pat Martel/CBC)

The band will be playing A Taste of Syria fundraiser on Saturday in Kensington, P.E.I.


Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning where he was a writer-broadcaster and producer. He joined the web team recently to share his passion for great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He retired in Oct. 2019.