A group of five college-aged Emirati women have formed the first all-girl rock band, in an organic move combatting gender inequality and perceptions in the Middle East.

Composed of students from the United Arab Emirates’ Al Ain Women’s College of the Higher Colleges of Technology, the group known as The Random Stars, began just like countless ‘garage bands’ around the world, covering popular pop and rock hits.

The band is a step forward and away from a time, years ago, when female students at a school of technology were an innovation in and of themselves. Yet even the makeup of the band’s prior musical history speaks to the newness of the progress. According to The National, before the formation of the group by English teacher Jackie Small, only one band member had played a musical instrument when the group formed a year before.  “I’ve always started bands wherever I’ve gone. I used to do that in the UK,” said Ms. Small to The National, “When I started teaching here there were clubs…I had in my mind a band so I got a drum kit and taught someone to play the drums, and I got a bass and taught them to play that. So we had the basis of a band, and last year they really got together and played a few songs."

The group performs at a number of college events such as graduation ceremonies and Emirati National Day celebrations, and Ms. Small explains that, “generally, the reaction here among the students has been great.” One of the band members, Bushra Hassan Al Hashimi, explains that her family has backed her involvement in the band, “My mother encourages us, they’re supporting us.”

With plans for the band to release an original album in the coming year, The Random Stars join the swelling ranks of Muslim women around the world entering the music profession. With performers such as world-renowned Yuna and  Deeyah by their side, The Random Stars have a bright, if still rocky, path ahead of them.

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