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Afghanistan’s music institute to perform in Oman

The tour will start on Feb. 11 and will gather more than 70 musicians between the ages of 11 and 22

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The Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) is set to perform for the first time in the Sultanate of Oman, it announced on Sunday in an official statement.

“We are glad to be performing for the first time in the Sultanate of Oman,” founder and director of ANIM Ahmad Naser Sarmast told Al Arabiya News.

“Our decision to perform in Oman comes after receiving an invitation from the prestigious Opera House of Muscat during our performance in the States in 2013,” Sarmast said, explaining the reasons behind the choice of the sultanate.

The tour will start on Feb. 11 and will gather more than 70 musicians between the ages of 11 and 22. The musicians, half of which are orphans, are meant to convey a different image of Afghanistan to the Middle East than what is usually represented.

“Throughout this tour, we want to show that we can live in harmony with our neighbors in the Middle East and portray a different image of Afghanistan, which is usually associated with violence and bombings,” Sarmast said.

“We want to show the region through the world’s universal language: music. [We want to show] that Afghanistan can live in peace and harmony,” he added.

On the third day of the tour, the young Afghani musicians will give an exclusive concert at the Royal Opera House of Muscat, known for being the most prestigious concert hall in the Middle East.

During the performance, they will be accompanied by Omani artists from the Muscat Philharmonic as a “sign of union between the Afghanistan and the Middle East,” the ANIM director explained.

ANIM which is part of Afghanistan's Ministry of Education is also expected to visit to Estonia and Argentina this year, Sarmast said.

The Afghanistan National Institute of Music was created in 2010 despite the strident censorship music faces in Afghanistan from some conservatives, who insist that it is un-Islamic.

“We faced criticism from people who have been brainwashed by the Taliban and some other narrow minded people but these are not the majority of Afghans and will not prevent us from conveying music to the kids of Afghanistan,” he said.

During the five years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, music and other entertainment means were banned.

“They should spend their time going to the mosque and learning about prayer,” Haji Mullah Qalamuddin, a Taliban government official said while explaining the reason behind the restriction plan, according to the Associated Press.

“We want to reform society and make it 100 percent Islamic,” he added.