Salim Rashid Suri

Salim Rashid Suri (between 1910 and 1912, Sur, Oman – 1979, Sur, Oman)[1] was a 20th-century ṣawt singer and oud player from Oman. He is particularly associated with the ṣawt genre called Ṣawt al-Khaleej ("Voice of the Gulf").

Salim Rashid Suri
Bornc. 1910–1912
Sur, Oman
Sur, Oman
Occupation(s)Singer, instrumentalist

Career and personal lifeEdit

As a teenager, Suri worked on sailing ships plying the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. He first started as a maidan singer; he learned ṣawt by listening to phonograph records of performances by Abdullatif al-Kuwaiti.[2][3] Continuing to travel widely, he became known as "The Singing Sailor".[2]

Suri's family was conservative and did not approve of his musical inclinations; his brother even threatened to shoot him if he did not give up singing.[1][2][3] He consequently moved to Mumbai where he worked first as a boilerman, then as a mercantile broker and translator in the trade between Arab and Indian merchants.[1] During this time Suri continued to practice and perfect his musical art, integrating Indian influences into his music – some of his lyrics were in Urdu as well as his native Arabic,[3] helping him secure a steady sale of his records (he recorded twelve 78-rpm shellac gramophone records in the early 1930s)[1] to an Indian as well as an Arabic audience.[1][2]

In 1943, Salim Rashid Suri married an Indian woman and in the late 1940s he and his wife relocated to Bahrain where he enjoyed success as a performer and set up his own record label and recorded other musicians. He continued to be a leading creator and exponent of the Ṣawt al-Khaleej ("Voice of the Gulf") variety of ṣawt. However, the advent of vinyl records ruined his record business and he returned to Oman in 1971 where the Sultan made him a consultant for cultural affairs. He died in 1979, considered by then a beloved cultural treasure of Oman.[1][2][3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Rolf Killius. "The Singing Sailor, Salim Rashid Suri: A Ṣawt Musician from Oman". Qatar Digital Library. Qatar National Library. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The singing sailor of Oman". Round The Bend. BBC. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Margaret Makepeace (November 26, 2013). "The Singing Sailor – Salim Rashid Suri". Untold Lives Blog. British Library. Retrieved November 30, 2014.