Read on to discover some of the regional pop culture highlights you might have missed.
‘Catch A Vibe’
Saudi producer, broadcaster and DJ Big Hass launched this new weekly radio show, which highlights regional acts, on the UAE’s Pulse 95 (based in Sharjah) over Ramadan. “Catch A Vibe” is one of the few shows on mainstream radio in the region to focus on alternative acts based in or originating from the Arab world. It airs on Saturdays at 9 p.m. UAE time.
“It showcases local, original artists,” Hass says of the show. “Now, those artists can’t say that there’s no home for their songs to be played on the radio and listeners can discover the diversity of talent in the region, whether they perform in English, Arabic, or any other language.”
The presenter hopes the show will promote a better understanding of the Arab region, particularly in the UAE, where the population is reportedly made up of more than 200 nationalities.
“The Arab region can’t be summed up in one country, or one area. Whether it’s from North Africa, to the Levant, to the GCC, to the diaspora, that’s what the show’s all about,” he says. “So for an hour, once a week, there’s no Justin Bieber, there’s no The Weeknd, there’s no Adele. With all due respect to those artists, the whole point is to expose the world to the sounds coming out of the Arab region, which are just incredible.”
As part of the Dubai Comedy Festival, Comedy Bizarre will be hosted at beach club Bla Bla Dubai, with an early show and a late show every day from May 14-20. The early shows run from 8 p.m. with a different theme every day. Highlights include “Beat The Gong” on May 17, when 12 up-and-coming comics will attempt to complete their short sets before being ‘gonged’ off stage, and “She-Larious Show” on May 15, with an all-female lineup of comedians including Sameera Khan, Eman Khalouf and Imah Dumagay.
The late shows begin at 10 every night and feature more-established names, including Axis of Evil co-founder Ahmed Ahmed, Dubomedy founders Mina Liccione and Ali Al-Sayed, Palestinian-American comedian and author Nina Kharoufeh (pictured), Iraqi-American comic Paul Elia, British-Somali stand-up Prince Abdi, and UAE-based American comedian Simeon Goodson.
The acclaimed Lebanese street artist created this mural, “Homage to Ziad Rahbani,” as part of “Abyat Bayn Al-Bouyout” (Verses Between Houses) — a short-film project conceived by singer-songwriter and visual artist Tania Saleh, for which this piece formed the pilot episode.
Rahbani is one of the Arab world’s most-influential composers and writers and comes from perhaps the most significant family in the Lebanese cultural scene — his father, Assi, is considered one of the founders of modern Arabic music, while his mother, Fayrouz, is perhaps the only Arab diva who could challenge Umm Kulthum’s status as the greatest of all time.
According to a statement, Saleh’s project aims to “honor the legacy of our Arab poets, writers and thinkers and at the same time empower our youth to express themselves through drawing, painting, and Arabic calligraphy to create beautiful street art paintings on the walls of the Arab world.”
The Saudi artist is one of eight young creatives chosen to participate in the “Youth Takeover” at Dubai’s Jameel Arts Center. The group will put on an exhibition, titled “smol,” from May 18 to June 5. The show “taps into the curiosities and transformations of being and coming of age, invoking carefree possibilities, nostalgia, new adventures, as well as feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability in today’s world,” according to a statement from the artists. Allaf contributes this installation, entitled “Shoofeeni.”
The Tunisian duo — Ramy Zoghlami and Sabrine Jenhani — dropped their latest single, “Sucre,” recently. It’s the opening track from their new album “Hannet Lekloub,” and is the perfect introduction to the duo’s melancholy, evocative acoustic music. Think alt-folk with hints of traditional Arabic music. The understated vocals work beautifully with the sparse instrumentation.