Saudi soundsmith Molham blends Arabic rap with Western pop

From his very first performance, Molham knew he had made the right choice. (Supplied)
From his very first performance, Molham knew he had made the right choice. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 December 2020

Saudi soundsmith Molham blends Arabic rap with Western pop

Saudi soundsmith Molham blends Arabic rap with Western pop
  • Artist’s eclectic taste in music speaks to a global upbringing and the Kingdom’s promising concert scene
  • Themes of Molham’s lyrics range from love to societal matters and mental-health disorders

DUBAI: The career trajectory of Jeddah-born rap artist Molham  has much in common with his native Saudi Arabia, a country undergoing rapid change in different fields. Both take pride in their unique identity, having embraced the best influences of globalization and its cultural mores while preserving the distinctive textures of Middle Eastern heritage.

For Molham, the process of synthesis does not end here. His musical alchemy fuses Arabic and Khaleeji rap with Western pop melodies, creating a whole new sub-genre of music, a sound best defined by his latest track Khayali.

“Pop/rap is going to be my direction moving forward, because rap has been relatively underground in the last two decades and mainstream radio music is very melodic,” Molham told Arab News from his base in Dubai. “You can sing along to the lyrics, memorize them easily, and the melody there is really what hooks you.”

Molham’s diverse taste in music speaks to a global upbringing since childhood. Leaving Jeddah at a young age, he spent much of his early years in Ontario, Canada. “They were my formative years,” he said. “Coming back to Saudi Arabia, I had a bit of reverse culture shock getting back here. It took about a year or so before I felt integrated really well. Then I spent most of my time here.”




Molham’s musical alchemy fuses Arabic and Khaleeji rap with Western pop melodies. (Supplied)

His discovery of music can be traced back to his high school days, when he would jot down lyrics during math class. While on breaks, he would join rap contests with his peers. Fortunately, his grades did not suffer as a result.

“Sometimes during math class, in the last couple of minutes, the teacher knew I would be writing raps, so he would end early and have me do my bit,” he said. “And the whole class would run wild. It was a conducive environment.”

Next came a move to the US, where he attended Georgetown University to study finance and economics. While there, he performed in coffee shops, talent shows and radio stations as part of a duo called 705B. It was also while here that Molham came to understand the complexities of the music industry.

After graduation, he relocated to Dubai and began plotting a course to professional fulfilment and success.

“Before, I never really saw a music career as a possibility,” he said. “As I dug deeper into what I wanted my impact in this world to be, I saw myself as an artist creating music (for) the Saudi Arabian community.”

From his very first performance, Molham knew he had made the right choice. “My first time performing publicly on stage was in Saudi Arabia,” Molham said. “That was the first time I felt the adrenaline of what it felt like to perform. The most gratifying element for me in music is performing, being with fans and having people sing along.”




Molham says Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries should recognize the value of sharing a distinctive musical style with the outside world. (AFP)

Today, Saudi Arabia feels extremely friendly to concertgoers and welcoming to artists like Molham. Big music festivals such as MDL Beast and a whole new industry of studios and promoters have provided the ecosystem and the fan base he needed to launch his career.

“People began to understand my art, and that led to me wanting to give more,” he told Arab News.

Molham says he feels a close affinity with his fans and recalls the time a fan messaged him from hospital where she was recovering from PTSD. She told him his songs had helped her recuperate.

“When I hear things like that, it’s all worth it,” he said. “Seeing people’s responses and enjoyment of the music really is fuel to continue to put out music. It’s all about connecting with people.”

Molham explores a range of themes in his lyrics, from love to societal matters to mental-health disorders, broadening his appeal with a blend of English and Arabic. He launched his debut EP, The Time Is Yesterday, in March of 2018, with features from Egyptian starlet Malak El-Husseiny and Yusra J.




“My parents have always trusted me to do the things that I wanted to do,” says Molham. (Supplied)

The medium-length album’s breakout single, Me Against the World, hit the top hip-hop charts in the Middle East and North Africa, trending across seven different countries. New singles are already in the works.

Molham says his family has supported the choices he has made in life. “My parents have always trusted me to do the things that I wanted to do,” he said.

“It’s been really incredible. Obviously, they have their opinions on certain things. But since I was a kid, I’ve been able to do what I say because I’ve built that trust with them to be able to say something and actually do it.”

Looking to the future, he plans to shuttle between Saudi Arabia and Dubai for performances and collaborations. Although the coronavirus crisis has put a break on his travels and concerts for a time, he says it has enabled him to stay focused and further channel his creativity toward music.




Today, Saudi Arabia feels extremely friendly to concertgoers and welcoming to artists like Molham. (AFP)

Molham remains optimistic despite the blows dealt by the pandemic to the global cultural industry. “We’re prepared,” he said. “The future in the Kingdom is very bright. There is a lot of opportunity in Saudi Arabia and more nurturing of talent, so talents will mature earlier. We will see a lot of superstars.”

Citing the example of K-Pop, which became a defining image for South Korea, Molham says Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries should recognize the value of sharing a distinctive musical style with the outside world.

“There’s a space for this genre, which I’m trying to mold and shed light on,” Molham said. “I am creating this new genre called A-pop.”

Saudi Arabia’s cultural revitalization is underway at full pelt but it is early days yet, so rap artists such as Molham remain a rare breed. Which leads to the inevitable question: What reception does he get when foreigners realize he is Saudi?

“There is still a little bit of surprise, but people are pleasantly surprised,” Molham said. “It’s something new to the mainstream. With anything new, people will be surprised. But how you introduce this newness is where the key is. You show people what you have to offer, and you make space for them to appreciate it.”

Twitter: @CalineMalek


Italian gastronomic delights whet the Saudi appetite

‘It’s great to learn about Italian cuisine, drinks and desserts that we did not know about before. (Supplied)
‘It’s great to learn about Italian cuisine, drinks and desserts that we did not know about before. (Supplied)
Updated 13 sec ago

Italian gastronomic delights whet the Saudi appetite

‘It’s great to learn about Italian cuisine, drinks and desserts that we did not know about before. (Supplied)
  • World Week of Italian Cuisine in Saudi Arabia concludes with feast in Jeddah

JEDDAH: The celebrations in Saudi Arabia for the sixth annual World Week of Italian Cuisine concluded with a showcase of Italian gastronomic delights, accompanied by authentic Italian music, at the country’s consulate general in Jeddah.
A number of Italian food brands, restaurants and catering companies took part in the event on Sunday, which celebrated Italian culinary arts by serving up traditional dishes to representatives of the Italian and Saudi communities.
“It’s great to learn about Italian cuisine, drinks and desserts that we did not know about before,” said Abdulrahman Rammal, one of the Saudi guests. “Our previous knowledge of Italian food was limited to certain meals, such as pizza and pasta, but the Italian Cuisine Week created more-knowledgeable awareness of the world of food.”
He said that a number of Italian sweets companies also presented their latest products, and added that such cultural events encourage Saudis to learn more about other nations and their peoples.
Stefano Stucci, the consul general of Italy in Jeddah, told Arab News: “The event is a worldwide initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with the support of Italian embassies and consulates around the world, aimed at promoting the quality and heritage of Italian cuisine, as distinctive signs of our identity and culture.”
The consulate general in Jeddah said it organizes, with selected partners, a number of events designed to promote Italian cuisine culture, and the uniqueness and diversity of authentic Italian ingredients and products.

Food exports play a vital role in the Italian economy. With an annual turnover of more than $163.4 billion, they represent the second-highest-ranking Italian manufacturing sector and account for 8 percent of national gross domestic product, according to Federalimentare, which protects and promotes the Italian food and beverage industry.


Saudi foreign minister meets Mexican officials

Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle in Mexico City. (SPA)
Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle in Mexico City. (SPA)
Updated 30 November 2021

Saudi foreign minister meets Mexican officials

Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle in Mexico City. (SPA)
  • They discussed enhancing investment opportunities in a number of sectors as well as bilateral efforts in stabilizing energy markets

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with a number of Mexican officials as he visited the country.
He met his counterpart Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico City on Monday.
The pair discussed coordinating efforts to serve the interest of their nations.
They also praised Saudi Arabia and Mexico’s efforts on international security and stopping the spread of weapons that threaten the people across the globe.
Prince Faisal also met Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle.
They discussed enhancing investment opportunities in a number of sectors as well as bilateral efforts in stabilizing energy markets.
Prince Faisal also had meetings with the President of Mexican Council on Foreign Affairs Sergio M. Alcocer and the President of the Mexican Senate Olga Sánchez Cordero.
Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat, on a tour of Latin America, arrived in Brazil on Thursday to meet officials in Brasilia then opened the Kingdom’s new embassy building in the country on Friday.


Riyadh Season: Groves offers relaxing spa, shopping, entertainment, culinary experience

The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (AN photos by Saleh Al-Ghanim)
The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (AN photos by Saleh Al-Ghanim)
Updated 30 November 2021

Riyadh Season: Groves offers relaxing spa, shopping, entertainment, culinary experience

The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (AN photos by Saleh Al-Ghanim)
  • This place is ‘all about nature, relaxation, and quietness, so each zone has its flavor’

RIYADH: One of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones, the Groves, has opened its doors for visitors to experience its spa, restaurants, shops, and shows.

The Groves has combined work and relaxation through an area called The House, which consists of business meeting rooms in a luxurious environment.
Siham Hassanain, general manager of the Groves, told Arab News that the zone was a garden that reflected its name, meaning field of trees.
She said: “Visitors can hear the sound of fountains, water, and birds ... the place also has a special scent. The logo of the Groves contains the four elements of life which are water, air, fire, and earth.
“So, I used these four elements of life in the Groves. The water resembles the relaxation of the place, fire means action and attractions, earth means food, and air means memories.”
The zone contains several open spaces including Al-Jalsa, an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can view the site and discover its various activities.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Groves has combined work and relaxation through an area called The House, which consists of business meeting rooms in a luxurious environment.

• People can enjoy a number of attractions while at the Groves, including birds of Eden, an afternoon high tea experience where a selection of the finest teas are served in an aviary filled with classical live music.

People can enjoy a number of attractions while at the Groves, including birds of Eden, an afternoon high tea experience where a selection of the finest teas are served in an aviary filled with classical live music. Other restaurants such as GEM.IN.I and El Lechazo offer a range culinary delights.
Followers of fashion can buy from local designers showcasing their latest collections, and dog owners and their pets can meet in Riyadh’s first-ever canine park, Lucaland.

Dog owners and their pets can meet in Riyadh’s first- ever canine park, Lucaland.

Hassanain, founder of Siham International Trading Co., a Saudi firm operating in the hospitality, food, and beverage industry, noted that the Groves was located in the city’s Diplomatic Quarter with commanding views of Wadi Hanifah.
“Nature and trees are all around. Wadi Hanifah offers a unique experience ... a place to relax.
“Each zone in Riyadh Season has its own unique experience. If you want a vibrant area, go to Boulevard Riyadh City. Visit Al-Murabaa to try international restaurants. If you are looking for an Arabian night experience in the desert, Riyadh Oasis is the place.
“But the Groves is all about nature, relaxation, and quietness, so each zone has its flavor,” she added.


Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
Updated 30 November 2021

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
  • The library houses around 180,000 books and 71 classifications, most of which are books on the prophetic biography with 86 titles, and other specialist administrations and departments

MADINAH: The Prophet’s Mosque Library in Madinah is seeking to enrich visitor knowledge through its 180,000 books.

The library, which is affiliated with the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, is considered one of the most important places that visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque are keen to visit.

It aims to offer people the opportunity to acquire skills and expertise, as well as enrich their knowledge, through its diverse range of books in more than 21 languages.

The library houses around 180,000 books and 71 classifications, most of which are books on the prophetic biography with 86 titles, and other specialist administrations and departments.

It also includes a smart digital library offering computers with e-books.

Authorities have allocated a location for the library on the northwestern roof of the second expansion of the mosque.

 


Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli president’s visit to West Bank holy site

Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli president’s visit to West Bank holy site
Updated 30 November 2021

Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli president’s visit to West Bank holy site

Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli president’s visit to West Bank holy site

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia denounced the visit of Israel’s president to Ibrahimi mosque in the West Bank, calling the act a flagrant violation of its sanctity.

Saudi Arabia called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to stop the Israeli government and its officials’ continuous practices towards Islamic sanctities, according to a Saudi foreign ministry statement. Saudi Arabia called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to stop the Israeli government and its officials’ continuous practices towards Islamic sanctities.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited the site on Sunday to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, sparking scuffles between Israeli security forces and protesters.

Herzog said he was visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs, known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi mosque,  in Hebron to celebrate the ancient city’s Jewish past and promote interfaith relations. But his visit to the city, known for its tiny ultranationalist Jewish settler community and difficult living conditions for Palestinians, drew widespread criticism from Palestinians and left-wing Israelis.

— With Reuters