THE ROUNDUP: Pop-culture highlights from across the region

THE ROUNDUP: Pop-culture highlights from across the region
Ruba Shamshoum is a Palestinian singer-songwriter. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 February 2021

THE ROUNDUP: Pop-culture highlights from across the region

THE ROUNDUP: Pop-culture highlights from across the region
  • From award-winning soundtracks to a rock cover of a classic Dalida track and some heartfelt slow-burners


The Palestinian singer-songwriter has released the first single — and accompanying video — from her upcoming EP “Risha.” The track — “Sununu” — is evocative and delicate, switching between world-music and electronic vibes, and includes a spoken-word section towards the end. Lyrically, Shamshoum said in a press release, it’s a song “about being in a society that expects people to look a certain way, to fit into a mold, to hide until they disappear. It’s dedicated to those who fight everyday to be what they wish to be, instead of what they are told to be.” Shamshoum went on to describe her five-track EP, set for release in April, as “a love letter to femininity, and to the human connection to nature and to the self.”


The Lebanese artist’s powerful latest track is fuelled by both personal and national tragedy. “Fallou” (They Left), she explained in a statement, was inspired by a poem by Ghassan Matar that Nehme read when “I had just lost my unborn child, for the second time” earlier this year. It gained extra poignancy following the August 4 explosion in Beirut Port. The song, she said, “is a promise that no one leaves us forever; they are a part of us, through every breath and every day of our lives.” The accompanying video “tells the story of five women who had to either continue their path alone, or without the presence of a loved one, whether a child, partner, parent, or friend.”


The Egyptian composer and producer won Outstanding Main Title for a TV Show in  Foreign Langauge at the  Hollywood Music in Media Awards earlier this month for his soundtrack to the Lebanese TV show “Dofaat Beirut.” Hedayah was also nominated for Best World Music track for “El Otoor.” Discussing his “Dofaat Beirut” soundtrack in a press release, Hedayah said: “The show is about Beirut in the Sixties, so it was an unusual challenge for me to musically capture the essence of another country in another time period.” He did this partly by adding “a hint of the French influence of the Lebanese music of the period,” he explained.


The Jordanian indie-rock veterans have released a thrilling cover of Egyptian-born French singer Dalida’s “Helwa Ya Baladi,” performed in their own inimitable style. Judging by the production notes, it’s been a long time coming — the bass and drums were recorded back in 2015, but frontman Mahmoud Radaideh only added the vocals and other instruments late last year.


The Kuwaiti photographer was one of the winners of the Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum International Photography Awards’ January Instagram contest, the theme of which was “Abstract Light and Dark.” Murad won for this striking image of a Thomson gazelle’s horns. “In abstract photography, often there aren’t the usual frames of reference for the viewer. This lack of context is one of the reasons why abstract photography can be so challenging and, equally, enthralling,” he wrote on Instagram.


The 15-year-old Emirati singer-songwriter caused quite a stir with her debut major-label track “Hung Up,” grabbing plenty of media coverage as well the attention of Fendi stylists. The upbeat follow up, “Coco Kisses,” has Afro-inspired percussion backing Alya’s bilingual lyrics. She described the track in a press release as “tropical summer happiness.”


The Lebanese-Canadian singer-songwriter returns with “I’ll Be Here,” a heartfelt ballad that he describes as “an emotional song about love and reassurance.” “It’s about you reassuring a loved on that you will always be there for them, even if you are not physically close by,” he wrote online. “The song is particularly powerful today … when people are losing loved ones around the world.”