New generation of Arab women set their sights on global music stage

Egyptian musician Felukah
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Updated 14 December 2022
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New generation of Arab women set their sights on global music stage

  • Palestinian Chilean singer Elyanna has quickly made a name for herself globally
  • Egyptian musician Felukah has been flipping the concept of Arabic hip hop

RIYADH: From Algerian singer Cheb Mami’s feature on Sting’s “Desert Rose” in 1999 to Marshmello’s 2022 collaboration with Lebanese songstress Nancy Ajram, Arab nuances have been slowly weaving their way into the fabric of Western music.

However, Arab women remain on the sidelines of the industry, with only a handful of prominent acts making waves.

In Saudi Arabia, Spotify’s annual Wrapped campaign revealed that no female musicians from the Kingdom made it onto the country’s top 10 streaming artists’ list, and only three Khaleeji tracks, two of them by Syrian artist Assala Nasri, were most streamed.




Palestinian chilean singer Elyanna

But with the regional music scene predicted to become the fastest growing in the world, Arab women are aiming to buck the trend through authenticity.

At the recent XP Music Futures conference, industry experts and artists shared their thoughts on projecting women on a global stage.

Palestinian Chilean singer Elyanna has quickly made a name for herself globally, and has captivated audiences with her mane of dark blonde curls and piercing green eyes.

Supported and discovered by Lebanese Canadian musician Massari and The Weeknd’s manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, she now has more than 400,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Her sensual vocals and contemporary lyrics appeal to the masses as she bridges cultures in a way that is authentic yet mainstream and she is quickly becoming the voice of a multicultural generation.




Matthew Knowles

As opposed to many other upcoming artists, Elyanna remains distinctly an Arabic lyricist, incorporating her Palestinian roots into creating a unique genre of her own.

She told Arab News: “When I work on my music, I don’t think of it like, ‘oh, let’s do something crazy.’ I think of it as me. I’m 20 years old, and I just do what feels right to me.

“So of course, the generation is going to get that, because they’re going to connect with how a 20-year-old girl feels.”

The beauty about songs is they don’t look at if you’re male or female. Songs are songs. It starts with great songs.

Matthew Knowles

While she noted that she was too young to give advice on navigating the challenges that come with being a woman in the industry, she highlighted the word try within all her aspirations.

Elyanna said: “When you care, and you’re passionate, that’s all you need. I believe that Arab music is going to have an impact one day. It’s not going to be easy, obviously, nothing comes really easy. I do think our culture is so beautiful, there’s so much that the world did not see about our culture.

“Imagine we show them our dancers, the way they dance; so authentic, so beautiful. And look at the instruments we have, the melodies we have, the beats. You see a lot of Americans; they take them and make them hip hop beats. This says so much. This is such a start,” she added.

Mathew Knowles, the visionary manager behind the careers of Destiny’s Child, Beyonce, and Solange, the latter two to whom he is the father, spoke about how to be a successful female act in the global market. He said that while 75 percent of his clients over the years had been women, image was key in the music industry.

“The beauty about songs is they don’t look at if you’re male or female. Songs are songs. It starts with great songs.

“I wanted to also understand that with the culture, will the youth be able to look contemporary in their dress and can women be contemporary in their dress? Because if you’re going to compete against the world, that’s what you’re competing against, right?”

He added that language was also something to take into consideration; would an artist be singing solely in Arabic, English, or both?

Knowles said: “How are you going to approach the language barrier if you’re going to grow?”

Hailing from the region’s biggest rap scene, Egyptian musician Felukah has been flipping the concept of Arabic hip hop.

Inspired by global prose and poetry from the likes of poet Nayyirah Waheed and Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, her intriguing lyrics find a way to adapt to the nature of rap and hip hop music by mixing Arabic and English lyrics.

Felukah told Arab News: “What I’m really trying to do is represent myself in the most authentic way possible. And when people find that relatable, they like the music.”

She recently released Coca Cola’s 2022 FIFA World Cup anthem, an all-girl collaboration with Saudi musician Tamtam and Mexican singer Danna Paola, remaking Queen’s 1986 hit “A Kind of Magic,” and gave a captivating performance at XP Music Futures in November.

On her experience being a woman in the industry, Felukah said: “I get hate from men, and I get hate from women. A lot of the time I hear, ‘I don’t like women rapping, I like male voices.’

“That’s not a critique. You need to expand your range. You need to listen; there’s so many women rappers, there’s so many women singers, and the fact that a person is not familiar enough with women’s voices and hasn’t found at least one that they like is wild. So, I don’t accept that,” she added.

She noted that authentic Arabic music will not rise to the top in one song, but contemporary artists today, including herself, were working toward representation in a brighter future.


Djibouti PM receives Saudi deputy foreign minister

Djibouti’s Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed receives Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 39 min 3 sec ago
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Djibouti PM receives Saudi deputy foreign minister

  • During the meeting with Mohamed, Al-Khuraiji reviewed relations between Djibouti and Saudi Arabia
  • Topics of common interest were also discussed

RIYADH: Djibouti’s Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed received the Kingdom’s Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji on Thursday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the meeting, the officials reviewed relations between the two countries and discussed topics of common interest.

Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji meets with Djibouti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mahmoud Ali Youssef on Thursday. (SPA)Caption

Al-Khuraiji was also received by Djibouti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mahmoud Ali Youssef on Thursday.

The minister is in the country to attend the second consultative meeting on enhancing the coordination of peace initiatives and efforts in Sudan.

Al-Khuraiji later met with Minister of State at the UAE Foreign Ministry Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al-Nahyan on the sidelines of the meeting. 

Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji meets with Minister of State at the UAE Foreign Ministry Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al-Nahyan. (SPA)

 


Chinese Embassy celebrates 97th anniversary of People’s Liberation Army

Updated 25 July 2024
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Chinese Embassy celebrates 97th anniversary of People’s Liberation Army

RIYADH: The Chinese Embassy in Saudi Arabia hosted a reception on Wednesday in Riyadh’s Cultural Palace to mark the 97th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.

“We would like to use this opportunity to celebrate not only our history, but also the history of military and security cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China,” said Zhu Je, the armed defense attache at the Chinese Embassy.

In an interview with Arab News, Zhu recalled Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman’s June visit to Beijing, where he met his Chinese counterpart, Dong Jun.

Zhu described the meeting between the two ministers as “a milestone in the new era.”

He told Arab News: “This is the first time that he visited China to meet with the Chinese minister of defense and also the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

“The ministers decided to continue to deepen bilateral cooperation in defense and military areas, strengthen strategic communication between the leaderships, and to elevate the relationship to a higher level.”

The defense attache highlighted the importance of the meeting, in which Prince Khalid and his Chinese counterpart reviewed Saudi-Chinese relations and ways to strengthen ties.

The People’s Liberation Army anniversary reception welcomed defense officials and ambassadors based in the Kingdom.

Chinese Ambassador Chang Hua hosted the event alongside Zhu and welcomed guests to the reception.

Zhu delivered the opening remarks and highlighted the “strategic friendly cooperation” between the Kingdom and China’s defense ministries.

“China firmly supports Saudi Arabia to strengthen its strategic capacities for safeguarding its national security, and resolutely opposes any external interference in the Kingdom’s internal affairs,” he said.

China aims to “facilitate the reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as the unity between Palestinian parties, to support Saudi Arabia’s efforts to maintain stability, restore peace and protect civilians in the region and in the world,” he added.

Zhu thanked the Kingdom for its support, saying: “I once again express our sincerest gratitude and respects to the leaders, government, armed forces, security forces and people of Saudi Arabia.”

He also praised the Saudi ministries of defense, interior and National Guard, as well as his embassy colleagues.


KSrelief celebrates Youth Skills Day at Jordan’s Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees

Updated 25 July 2024
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KSrelief celebrates Youth Skills Day at Jordan’s Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief’s Center for Community Service celebrated International Youth Skills Day at the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

The center held a special ceremony for the occasion, including various activities highlighting the skills of young people in the community and an awareness lecture to encourage women to develop their talents and capabilities, join training courses, and work with organizations to acquire new skills and experiences.


KSrelief provides shelter kits for thousands of displaced in Sudan

Updated 25 July 2024
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KSrelief provides shelter kits for thousands of displaced in Sudan

  • There were 400 shelter bags delivered in Blue Nile state, benefiting 2,300 people, and 590 were delivered in the Northern State, helping 3,240 individuals

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief has distributed nearly 1,000 shelter kits across Sudan to families most in need, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Wednesday.
There were 400 shelter bags delivered in Blue Nile state, benefiting 2,300 people, and 590 were delivered in the Northern State, helping 3,240 individuals.
The assistance is part of the humanitarian and relief efforts provided by Saudi Arabia through KSrelief to support countries and people in need worldwide.


Saudi maths students scoop 10 awards at international competition

Updated 25 July 2024
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Saudi maths students scoop 10 awards at international competition

  • Mawhiba Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazaa said the victory was a source of pride for the entire nation

RIYADH: Saudi maths students scooped 10 awards, fending off strong competition from 38 countries, in the 36th annual Asian Pacific Mathematics Olympiad, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Wednesday.

The Saudi team, represented by the King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) and the Education Ministry, won two silver medals, five bronze, and three certificates of commendation against 345 other students.

Youssef Bakheet from the educational directorate of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, and Muath Al-Qahtani from the Eastern Province, received the silver medals.

The bronze medals were awarded to Mohammed Al-Ghamdi and Ilyas Al-Faraj from the Eastern Province, Ahmed Al-Shahri from Riyadh, Fatima Bouali from Al-Ahsa and Ahmed Khalawi from Jeddah.

The certificates of commendation were awarded to Mohammed Hafez and Abdul Salam Al-Salmi from Madinah, as well as Youssef Khalawi from Jeddah.

Mawhiba Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazaa said the victory was a source of pride for the entire nation.

The participation at APMO was part of the Mawhiba program for international Olympiads, which is held in strategic partnership with the Education Ministry.

It is one of 20 programs and initiatives that offer advanced curricula and enrichment programs provided annually by Mawhiba and the ministry for talented students.