Iyad Rimawi

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Sailing Nowhere


Behind the Music

Creating music to tell stories about the dark side of the ocean is something new for me. I’ve worked on many soundtrack projects and I am used to producing music inspired by a script. This time, I was producing music inspired by a nonfiction book, “The Outlaw Ocean.” It provided much more context on issues it explored and put me in the necessary mindset to convey its stories. 

Before reading the book, the ocean was a place to relax, a getaway whenever I wanted to refresh my creativity. After working on this project, I share the same perception Ian mentioned in his book: “The ocean may be vast, blue, and deep, but it’s still being used as a junkyard.” I enjoyed getting to know a different side of the ocean and helping expose the truth through my music. The seagulls’ sound was my favourite sample. For me, seagulls represent the only free beings in an inhumane arena and they are a constant reminder of hope for a free, humane world we can aspire to build one day.

Music is essential for telling stories in film, television and now, in a book. Stories accompanied by lyrics and instrumental tracks take the audience through an emotional journey.

Iyad Rimawi
About Iyad Rimawi

Iyad Rimawi is one of the most famous and influential composers in the Arab world today. He started his career in 1998 as a songwriter and producer for the pioneering Syrian band, “Kulna Sawa,” which toured many concerts in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, UAE, Kuwait and Morocco. The band also performed in 20 U.S. states as part of the Culture for Peace Project and won a Peace Prize in 2005 from the United Nations. Iyad wrote the lyrics and music for most of “Kulna Sawa’s” songs. 


In 2001, Iyad founded his recording studio, where he composes and produces soundtracks for numerous Arab TV series. Iyad was the first Arab artist to sign with Sony Music Middle East in 2012. He released three albums that all hit Virgin Megastore charts – “Tales from Damascus” in 2012, “Silence in Syria” in 2016 and “Damascus Now” in 2019. 

Iyad worked on the last album in a tumultuous time of war in Syria. He was able to revive spirits and bring smiles to the Syrian people with his 2017 tour in three major Syrian cities – Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia. In 2018, he was the first Arab musician to perform in the Dubai World Trade Centre Arena, the largest indoor venue in the Middle East. The concert was titled “Love Letters from Damascus 2018.” He then returned to Dubai with "Love Letters from Damascus 2021," which sold out two concerts at the Dubai Opera.

The Journalism behind the Music

All music in this project is based on The Outlaw Ocean, a New York Times Best-Selling book by Ian Urbina that chronicles lawlessness at sea around the world. This reporting touches on a diversity of abuses ranging from illegal and overfishing, arms trafficking at sea, human slavery, gun running, intentional dumping, murder of stowaways, thievery of ships and other topics.

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