At 12, Youssef won the Best Musician Award in the National Music Competition for Youth. She continued her studies at the High Institute of Music and Dramatic Arts in Damascus studying for a B.A. in Music and specializing in qanun; at the same time, she studied for a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Damascus. Gaining international renown, Youssef gave solo performances and founded the Syrian Female Oriental Group (SFOG) in 2003, along with five of her musician colleagues. The SFOG regularly performed at many important events in Syria, as well as in Asian and European cities. They took their music to Dubai, Beijing, Bologna, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Athens, and elsewhere.
Youssef completed her B.A. in music in 2007 after being trained in the classical Arabic, Western, and Azerbaijani Qanun schools, and in music from masters Salim Sarwa from Syria and Elmira Akhundova from Azerbaijan. That same year she moved to Dubai to focus on her solo career before being invited to teach at Oman's Sultan Qaboos University in the Department of Music and Musicology in 2009. In 2012, she applied to and was selected for the U.K. government’s Exceptional Talent program, whereby 300 artists are endorsed each year by Arts Council England and selected from around the world to migrate to the U.K. She undertook a PhD at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), looking at how music can be used as a healing tool and working with Syrian refugee children at camps in Jordan and Europe. Youssef signed to Harmonia Mundi at the end of 2016. In November the following year, her debut album, Syrian Dreams, was issued by the label. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi