Sajjad Ali, a legendary singer in the Pakistani music scene, is set to perform at an art auction and dinner arranged by the charity organisation Sightsavers and hosted by internationally celebrated speaker and anchor Sidra Iqbal. The event will take place at Taj Dubai on April 1 to raise money to go towards funding cataract surgeries in Pakistan.
If you were to ask almost any South Asian from the 80s-90s for a playlist of the tracks they listened to at that time, you would be safe to expect a Sajjad Ali song included. His most famous tracks include Cinderella, Chief Saab and Babia, all accompanied with music videos that truly embody the 90s, long hair and denims galore. His brothers, Waqar Ali and Lucky Ali, are respected and successful musicians in their own right.
Though his most famous tracks largely came out in the 90s, Sajjad is still a relevant artist today. The music video for his recently released track Lagaya Dil is currently at 5.8 million views and his appearance on Coke Studio’s season 10 finale for the song Tera Naam is sitting at 3.2 million views. His collaboration with daughter Zaw Ali for the track Ronay Na Dia is one of the most-viewed videos on the Coke Studio YouTube channel, currently at 4.9 million views (and counting) .
The extent of respect that is extended to Sajjad was recently endorsed further when the singer was bestowed the civilian award, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, for his achievements and contribution to Pakistani music. The award is among the highest Pakistani honour and civilian awards that one could receive. Previous well-known recipients of the award include cricketers Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi and the late music legend, Junaid Jamshed.
WHAT HE WILL BE DOING AT THE EVENT: THE SIGHTSAVERS STORY
Sajjad is performing for a very special reason – to support Sightsavers, a charity dedicated to eliminating avoidable blindness and advocacy for disability rights.
Sightsavers’ history dates back to 1931, when a young boy in England named John Wilson went blind in both eyes after an accident in a chemistry class. Wilson went on to have a relatively normal life with his disability, even obtaining a degree in law from Oxford University. He routinely sought out to help others that had sight disabilities like he had, including seeing what jobs people with visual impairments could do in factories that were dealing with work shortages during World War II and working as an assistant secretary of the Royal National Institute for the Blind. But it was his trip to territories in Africa and the Middle East that had a profound effect on him.
Wilson was not only shocked at how widespread blindness was in these areas, but also at the unsuitable conditions that the visually impaired were living in. His quest to advance human rights for the blind led to him eventually founding Sightsavers, then known as the British Empire Society for the Blind.
A woman in Pakistan with cataracts
Currently, Sightsavers is a leading international charity that not just supports eliminating avoidable blindness but neglected tropical diseases as well as advocating for the rights of the disabled.
Due to a number of factors ranging from socioeconomic disparity to lack of resources, people with visual impairments that should have been otherwise avoidable are unfortunately common. Conditions such as trachoma and river blindness come about due to untreated infections, often as a result of lack of access to medication and/or surgery. Refractive error is also often present but is one that can be simply solved with a pair of glasses. However, even access to the correct pair of lenses can be difficult.
WHAT THE EVENT IS ALL ABOUT
For this upcoming event, all proceeds will be given to fund cataract surgeries in Pakistan. According to Sightsavers’ data, the approximate cost for an adult’s cataract surgery in Pakistan is USD30, or Dhs111. Considering the profound impact the procedure would have in bettering lives, the price of the surgery seems small. Yet, as is often seen in cases of financial disparity, what may be easily accessible to us can be out of reach for others.
At a time when tensions seem to be at a constant high in the subcontinent, it is easy to become desensitized to stories of struggle and tribulation amongst the disenfranchised in Pakistan. Certainly not out of any malice but because of the helplessness that one can end up feeling when a problem appears too large for you to do anything about. By using music and art to bridge that distance, Sightsavers and Sajjad Ali are calling back to the extremely long tradition of using the arts to group a community.
For more information and to discuss involvement, call Haya Mashhood on +971 543298110 or email email@example.com