Home Faculty meeting Civil Air Patrol Camp; symposium on the saudi music scene

Civil Air Patrol Camp; symposium on the saudi music scene

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Here’s the latest news from Middle Tennessee State University.

Civil Air Patrol

MTSU hosted nearly 40 young people selected for the US Air Force Volunteer Civilian Auxiliary National Cadet Engineering Technology Academy, also known as E-Tech, at MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences last month.

Eight cadets participated as staff while the other 29 came from Tennessee, Arizona, New Jersey, Minnesota, Puerto Rico and a CAP squadron based at Ramstein Air Force Base of the Army of the air in Germany.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, the university’s senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, led a seminar for the students.

Hands-on activities included flying aerospace flight simulators, driving moon buggies built by MTSU engineering technology students, assembling robots with the mechatronics faculty, navigating the obstacle course under supervision of Army ROTC instructors and the high-tech MakerSpace experience in the James E. Walker Library.

The sounds of Saudi Arabia

The sound of Saudi Arabia changes at breakneck speed and an MTSU professor is an eyewitness.

In the spring, history professor Sean Foley hosted a concert and academic symposium on the emerging independent music scene in Saudi Arabia. The event took place at the Hayy Jameel Cultural Center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Moe Abdo, a Sudanese musician born and raised in Saudi Arabia, performs with his band at the March 2022 Concert of Contemporary Saudi Music at the Hayy Jameel Cultural Center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  MTSU history professor Sean Foley and Recording Industry Department Chairman John Merchant organized the concert, which was followed the next day by a symposium on music issues.

A chance encounter with Raghad, a Saudi disc jockey, led to his inclusion in the event. Recording Industry Department Chairman and Grammy-nominated recording engineer John Merchant handled the audio, and Raghad performed between sets.

Performers included singer-songwriter Ghada Sheri; Moe Abdo, a Sudanese musician born and raised in Saudi Arabia; R&B artist Ahmed Amin; and singer Hamza Hawsawi, winner of the 2015 X-Factor Middle East competition.

“Saudi Arabia has a conservative religious tradition and for various reasons music was not as much a part of the public space…until the last couple of years. It’s changing very, very quickly,” said Foley, author of “Changing Saudi Arabia: Art, Culture and Society in the Kingdom.”

For years, Foley has written about modern shifts in Saudi culture, including a July 2021 article published by the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington that mentioned Wall of Sound, the kingdom’s first independent music label.

The article, which was translated into Arabic, caught the attention of a funder who was willing to support the concert and symposium.

The academic symposium brought together 20 to 30 selected professionals, from musicians to lawyers and concert programmers.

Foley said a major talking point is the rapidly developing inclusion of music education.

“Music is, for the first time in many, many years, incorporated into the program,” Foley said. “People are dying for music education, both online and in person.”