Haitham Al-Ghareeb, a Kuwaiti violin maker

Posted by Mark

Last night I passed by and met Haitham Al-Ghareeb, a local violin maker. We met at his small cozy workshop in Rawda located right outside his home. When you walk into his dimly lit workshop you’ll see a small diwaniya on the left with around a dozen violins hanging on the wall, while on the right hand side is his workstation where he crafts all his violins. He filled a kettle with water and put it on a small electric stove next to him and we started talking.

Back in 2000, Haitham was a oud player but was interested in getting into violins. He started looking for a good violin to buy in Kuwait but he couldn’t find any. Most of the violins available in the market back then were of poor quality from low end brands. That’s why Haitham decided to make his own violin using documents and instructions he found online.

Haitham hadn’t crafted any musical instruments before, he had dabbled with some minor oud repair but nothing major. This got me even more curious, how can a 25 year old with no previous woodworking skills be able to craft such a delicate instrument as a violin? Well the answer I believe might be in his genes. Haitham’s father, grand father and great grand father were all dhow builders. Woodworking had existed in his family for generations and it was just natural for him to be good at it.

Haitham’s first violin wasn’t flawless, it had mistakes and was made using locally sourced wood but yet the sound it produced to his ears was beautiful. This encouraged him to build a second better violin with imported tonewood (wood cut specifically for musical instruments). He started frequenting forums and participating in online communities where other violin craftsmen from around the world would share their tips and techniques. His violins kept improving with every build and soon he had his own tips and tricks to share with the community. He loved crafting violins so much that he quickly forgot about wanting to play them. He became obsessed in building and perfecting his own creations.

When Haitham first started making violins he was spending 4 hours a day working on them and each violin would take around 2 months to complete. Nowadays he’s too busy with work and family so it takes him around 9 months to complete a single violin. But he’s fine with that. He never started making violins with the intention to turning it into a profitable business. Even his prices have remained the same over the years even though his violins kept getting better and demand for them kept increasing. He just loves making violins and isn’t interested in expanding. It’s a hobby he’s just really good at. He also does a lot of repair work on violins which to many musicians is a lifesaver. Musicians bond with their instruments and having a local violin maker means that a damaged violin no longer needs to be discarded but instead can be repaired. Only two of the violins hanging on the wall were his, the rest were either in for repair or were being sold by other musicians.

Once we were done with the interview, Haitham served us some tea. Throughout the whole interview which lasted around 40 minutes I had watched him make us the tea using two kettles, a can filled with what I assume is tea leaves and a box filled with I don’t know what. He then skillfully poured the tea from the large kettle into three glasses that were sitting amongst a dozen on the table in front of us. The tea was delicious and to me summarized the kind of person that Haitham is, a perfectionist.

If you’d like to contact Haitham for any reason you can do so by emailing him on hghareeb.koc@gmail.com


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18 comments, add your own...


  1. Nur says:

    Mark your feature is fantastic, I’ve loved reading this – I am absolutely planning on getting to know Haitham in person, such an inspiring story!!

    • Mark says:

      thanks, please check this post as well in case you missed it http://248am.com/mark/interesting/kuwaiti-business-sebs-cheer-apparel/

      I love these stories.

      • Nur says:

        I’m blown away, what a wonderfully niche, unique enterprise! Who’d have imagined a business of manufacturing cheerleading outfits in Kuwait? You’re right, these stories are awesome, reading about these folks makes all the difference, and gives you new optimism in the ingenuity and hard work of people we may not always hear about, thanks Mark!!

        I wonder, would you be open to the occasional outsider contribution to the page, perhaps with something like this or other stories? I’d love to be able to contribute something sometime!

        • Mark says:

          I’m very picky would who I let contribute on my blog which is why I only allow my friends. But if you have stories like this get in touch with me and maybe we could do it together since I like meeting the people.

          • Nur says:

            Sure, that makes sense, it’s your blog after all! I think your suggestion sounds great – I’ll make sure to get in touch with you if I think there’s a story and we can work it out together!

  2. Kuwait says:

    Good going Haitham. So glad you got into this and not cupcakes.

  3. Chris says:

    Great read!

  4. Ahmad says:

    Dear haitham,

    ditch whatever you’re currently doing and start your own violin business.

    Finally a TRUE KUWAITI product which is not those stupid cupcakes .. you should get the مشاريع الصغيرة gov loan and start your own business.

  5. Matt says:

    Good for him. I wish him all the best.

  6. Kingfisher says:

    . Absolutely marvellous. Priceless skills.

  7. BuYousef says:

    Thank you for shaing, Mark. First post I’ve really enjoyed for some time. I wish Haitham all the very best with his beautiful work. It’s clearly something that brings him joy, and it warms me to think of how much joy his violins bring after they leave his workshop (even with the initial pain they give to people surrounding a violin student). My daughter is learning to play the violin and I can’t wait to share this story with her.

  8. Siby says:

    Hi ,
    What will be the price range starts from….

  9. Q8D says:

    While we’re on the topic of violins, anyone know any violin schools here for a guy in his 20’s? I never played the violin but I’ve been wanting to learn for years.

  10. Haitham says:

    Thank you Mark!

  11. Gator says:

    I SALUTE THIS MAN!

  12. Martin john says:

    HI,I AM MARTIN JOHN.I AM LOOKING GOOD GERMAN VIOLIN FROM KUWAIT.CAN U GIVE ANY IDEA ABOUT SALEING PLACE???

  13. Martin john says:

    I am a professioal violinist frm India.Nw i am in kuwait.i need one good violin.please gv idea about this…


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