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Music in the Middle East

In a region often divided by political, ideological and sectarian conflicts, music remains a common factor among the people of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Those who master the language of the soul and heart enjoy popularity all over the region; a popularity that lives on even after composers, singers and musicians have gone. Whether you are in your country or abroad, you will be accompanied by Umm Kulthum (Egypt), Mohammed Abdu (Saudi Arabia), Lutfi Bushnaq (Tunisia), Fairouz (Lebanon), Nazem al-Ghazali (Iraq) and many, many others. Fanack presents the history of music in the MENA region and will continue to follow the new musicians, songwriters and performers who are emerging, whether they follow traditional rules or break new ground, to reflect the changing realities in the region.


Further Reading

Egyptian rap maintained its fervor once the Muslim Brotherhood under Mohamed Morsi came to power in 2012. Artists became more focused on including nuance in their music. However, Everything changed in June 2013, when General Abdel...
In fact, what made this era exceptional was the fortuitous coming together of great musical talent – composers, singers and lyrical poets/songwriters. Together, they propelled this artistic engine and left a great legacy behind.
Under President Hassan Rouhani, cultural freedoms have continued to expand. Legal Persian pop music is now widespread and pop concerts are regularly held in various cities around the country. However, securing a permit for hip-hop...
Anglophone artists are using their music to ‘convey free speech’, Anglowaiti music is more community driven and more commercial than its regional counterparts. It is also more focused on promoting talent and building relations...
Rap and hip-hop in general, is a mirror of society. Rappers talk about injustice, social and political issues, corruption. However, they don’t consider themselves as political rappers, they speak about what’s happening to them...
Mashrou’ Leila are a band on a mission to instigate change, with a lead singer who is openly gay and songs tackling taboos that very few other Arab musicians have explored. The young generation found solace in the band’s atte...
Rahbani’s plays satirized the political and social reality of the time. Rahbani has never hid his political affiliations. He is the ‘unusual’ artist, critical of his peers who do not express their political views for fear of...
As a resident of many countries and a visitor to many more, Bawab will always carry several flags, highlighting her international and fluid character. Yet one of these flags will always be Palestinian. She is a tireless advocate f...
Musical expression in Syria is not new, however it is only since the war that it has become overtly political. Rappers tend to talk about politics, jail, torture, lack of hope and terrorism.
Following the fall of the regime, rap exploded. Rap was featured in patriotic songs, political shows and even a yoghurt commercial. The country was experiencing a wave of freedom of expression, and rappers, like many other artists...

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