Sunday, July 29, 2012

El Morabba3 Live at Jara 2011

The Jordan band El Morabba3 performed at Souq Jara in Amman, Jordan in 2011--before the release of their album earlier this year.

Comedian Amer Zahr Wishes You a "Happy Ramadan"

Amer Zahr is one of the most popular Arab-American comedians around. He has traveled the world performing, and loves making people LAUGH!  He is also a writer and commentator. See his site and blog at

Amer Zahr's latest video is his rendition of a song he calls "We Wish You a Happy Ramadan." Here is his video clip:

Other hilarious videos by Amer Zahr in the past have included this "Dance Like an Arab" video:

For more on Amer Zahr see
Amer Zahr's YouTube Channel:

Hana Malhas: Jordanian Singer Who Records in English

Info below partially taken from

Hana Malhas likes to describe her music as borderless indie folk-pop. She chases summer every year from the US (her current residence) to Amman, Jordan (the hometown she hails from). She sings mostly in English (but sometimes in Arabic) and performs solo and/or with her band The Overthinkers (which varies from duo to full band) on stages in both the US and the Middle East.  She is a storyteller with an expressive vocal delivery.

Her shows over the past year have included such venues as The Ark in Ann Arbor, Top of the Park at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and the Citadel in Amman. Places performed include: Michigan (Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Albion), New York City, Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee, Jordan (Amman), and Lebanon (Beirut).

In September 2011 Hana Malhas performed live with the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila at the Citadel in Amman.

While Hana's 2010 debut LP Shapeshift featured 17 American and Jordanian artists recorded over two time zones, her new CD--titled Hana Malhas & The Overthinkers (released on June 5th)--is as cohesive as it is complex. It is more focused, elemental, and intimate. Hana describes this album as “full of subtle drama. To me, it’s about your subconscious love, your inner superhero, or your darkest quiet place.”

Here are some video clips featuring Hana Malhas singing in English plus one in Arabic.

The clip below features Hana Malhas performing Coldplay's 'Fix You' @ the University of Michigan Lydia Mendelssohn Theater, 10/25/2011. Recorded by Dave Schall:

The song below is the official video clip for the new single from Hana's new album Hana Malhas & The Overthinkers.  Released June 5th, 2012.  Directed, shot, and edited by: Ali Saloum ( Starring: Emi Guimond, Shane Firek, and friends in costumes.

Finally here is a beautiful duet, in Arabic, featuring Hana Malhas and Yazan Al Rousan. This song is titled 'Trouh' and is about religious tolerance.  It is available on Hana's CD Hana Malhas & The Overthinkers.  It may be purchased on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Cover of second CD by Hana Malhas

For more info about Hana Malhas:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Arabic Lyrics to Mashrou' Leila's Version of 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' ما تتركني هيك

Here are the Arabic lyrics to Mashrou' Leila's version of the Jacques Brel classic 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' titled 'ما تتركني هيك' [Don't Leave Me Like This]

See video clip of the group performing this song live in concert after the lyrics below.

ما تتركني هيك
عم بفتّش عليك
بأسفل كل كاس
بين تخوت هالناس
اتوهّم وجهك
وبنادي اسمك
كأنه موشوم
عشفافي اسمو
مزاجها عفريت
بحبر مميت
ما إلو دوا
خيبة الهوا

ما تتركني هيك
ما تتركني هيك 
ما تتركني هيك 
ما تتركني هيك 

حبيبي خليك
و بيحلى السمر
بنشرب القمر
و نوره بيِرْويك
بقتفلك النجوم
بركّبها عتاج
ببني لنا ملاج
ورا الغيوم

واذا هجرت 
خد قلبي معك
خد روحي معك
و اتركني بالمُر

ما تتركني هيك 
ما تتركني هيك 
ما تتركني هيك 
ما تتركني هيك 

Here is a video clip of Mashrou' Leila performing the song at the Paléo Festival Nyon, Switzerland in July 2012:

The First (but Not the Only) Palestinian Athlete at this Year's Olympic Games

Maher Abu Rmeileh
Palestinian judoka Maher Abu Rmeileh, who trains at the Al Quds sports club in Jerusalem.
Photograph: Gali Tibbon for the Guardian

Maher Abu Rmeileh is making history. The 28-year old judo champion from East Jerusalem is the first Palestinian to ever qualify on points for the Olympics. On July 30, 2012, he will compete for Palestine in the London Games. Until now, the Olympic Committee, which recognizes Palestine as a state, had invited Palestinian athletes only as honorary participants. 

Here is the video clip by Al-Monitor's meeting with Maher Abu Rmeileh on June 17, 2012 (Story by Sophie Claudet, Muayad Alayan and Raed Khoury):

Other Palestinian Athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mashrou' Leila's Arabic Version of 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' [If You Go Away]

Hamed Sinno, lead singer for Mashrou' Leila, live in Switzerland July 2012  

Here is Mashrou' Leila's version (in Arabic) of the Jacques Brel song 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' ما تتركني هيك 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Double DVD Set Release of Arab Poet Adonis Reciting His Poetry

A double DVD set of Syrian poet Adonis titled 'Mounchidan' أدونيس منشداً has recently been released and is also available in audio format on Amazon, iTunes, etc.  This is a project that was overseen by the poet's daughter Ninar Esber and comes a few years after Esber's book titled Conversations avec Adonis mon père, [Conversations with Adonis, my Father] which was published by Editions du Seuil, Paris, in 2006.

Adonis or Adunis (Arabic: أدونيس), is a Syrian poet, essayist, and translator who was born on January 1, 1930. His real name is Ali Ahmad Said Esber (Arabic: علي أحمد سعيد إسبر‎; transliterated: alî ahmadi sa'îdi asbar or Ali Ahmad Sa'id).  He has written more than twenty books and volumes of poetry in the Arabic language as well as translated several works from French.

Quote about Adonis by his daughter, artist Ninar Esber:
"My work as an artist has always driven me towards themes that are related to performance. For this project (which requires personal involvement on my part), I had the idea of filming Adonis as he recites his poetry. My ambition was to produce a filmed document of Adonis’s recited poetry, which would serve, by way of this privileged example, as a celebration of Arab poetry’s oral dimension.

When Adonis recites his poetry, he provides it with a bodily dimension. His voice, filled with emotions, is at the service of the language, and brings forth its musicality, as well as its warm and sensual tones. It is a tribute to the voice, to the music of the Arabic language, to a tradition that is still very much alive.

This piece disposes of one type of frame, one type of shot, and one type of lighting. The date references before each poem remind the viewer of the performative aspect of this project. Without music and without illustration, the setting is treated minimally (black background), which goes hand in hand with my preferred way of treating the image. For me, it is simply a matter of bringing the voice and the Arabic language to the forefront.

This project forms the logical conclusion to a book of interviews that I conducted with my father (Conversations avec Adonis, mon père), which was published by Editions du Seuil, Paris, in 2006.

Unlike the book, which found me on my father's own territory (language, writing, literature, the text, the book, etc.), this project consists of a genuine meeting between our respective worlds, the artistic universe and the poetic/literary universe."

--Ninar Esber 2011

'They Came in the Morning'' Wins British Short Film Competition

film copy_copy

The short film ''They came in the morning'' by Palestinian director Laila Sansour, has achieved the highest voting percentage in a short film competition that was organized by ''Virgin Media'' in England. 750 short films participated in it.

The short documentary film (2 min 19 sec) revolves around the city of Bethlehem and was born from some of the footage shot over 5 critical years in the life of Bethlehem during the making of an upcoming feature film titled "Operation Bethlehem".

Here is the short film clip:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New CD by El Rass and Mumna Titled Kachf el Mahjoub / Unveiling the hidden

Kachf el Mahjoub / Unveiling the hidden is a musical collaboration between Lebanese poet and musician Mazen el Sayed, otherwise known as El Rass (The Head), and Lebanese electronica artist Jawad Nawfal aka Munma. El Sayed is a prolific writer and musician, at ease with a variety of instruments, while Nawfal has previously released a number of albums and EPs, exploring downtempo electronica and ambient dubstep. The collision of harsh beats and brazen, slammed vocals works wonders on Unveiling the Hidden, produced and released by independent Lebanese label Ruptured. Notorious for his masterful flow in the classical Arabic language, quite an uncommon phenomenon in Lebanon's exuberant rap scene, El Rass' lyrics tackle both social and political sensitive subjects. Munma, on the other hand, creates a sound-world perfectly fitting El Rass’ agitated discourse, alternating between broken beats, elaborate percussion, and ambient layers of synths. At times reminiscent of mutant hiphop outfit Shabazz Palaces, at others of the collaboration between dubstep producer Kode9 and vocalist The SpaceApe, this album is an uncanny meeting of Arabic hip-hop and electronica. Adapted from a description by Ziad Nawfal.

Munma (Jawad Nawfal): beats, electronics El Rass (Mazen el Sayed): words, vocals Label: Ruptured

Mike Massy to Perform Live on July 28 at Anfeh Festival (Lebanon)

Mike Massy, whose album Ya Zaman has received much critical acclaim, will be performing live in concert on July 28 at 8:30 at the Anfeh Festival in Lebanon.  Entrance is free.

The Anfeh Festival is an annual 2 day entertainment event that takes place in the Lebanese village of Anfeh. It hosts famous singers and is ground to many fun activities. 

Yasmine Hamdan at El Genaina Theater (Egypt) on August 9-10

Yasmine Hamdan will be performing live at El Genaina Theater (Egypt) on,Thursday and Friday, August 9-10. For more see Event page on Facebook at this link or read below:

Yasmine Hamdan - Lebanon
Thursday and Friday, August 9-10

Writer, Composer and singer, Yasmine Hamdan was born in Beirut. She formed the indie electro-duo group “Soapkills” along with Zeid Hamdan in 1998. Between 1998 and 2005, Soapkills released 4 albums including a Live recording.. Her encounter in 2005 with Mirwais Ahmadzaï, the electronic music producer who composed Madonna’s album “Music”, results in the birth of Y.A.S. In 2009 she released her album “Arabology” by Universal Music.
In September 2011, Marc Collin and Yasmine met in Marc’s studio, Yasmine brought along some songs she’d written and some of her favorite rare Arabic classics. Their collaboration goes beyond the mere idea of making a remix, not a tribute nor a modernization, but rather a remote memory of a melody.

Ticket: 20 EGP (Excluding Park admission)

Al Azhar Park - Salah Salem rd. - Darassa
For more info please visit our website:
or call: 02 23637081

Yasmine Hamdan, Mike Massy, Adonis, Jadal, Marcel Khalife on KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM's World Charts

Yasmine Hamdan's new album peaked at number 18 on the World Charts (Most Airplay) for KZSU 90.1 FM (Stanford University) for the week ending in July 1, 2012). That same week saw four other Arabic CD's in the Top 20 World Charts including Mike Massy's album at number 13, Lebanese band Adonis at number 13, Jordanian group/band JadaL at number 11 and Marcel Khalife at number 17.

See screen capture below or go to THIS LINK.

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Ein Shams عين شمس" Film Available on YouTube

The 2009 Egyptian film 'Ein Shams' عين شمس [Eye of the Sun] is available in its entirety on YouTube.

This independent feature length film, which was initially banned in Egypt, premiered at the Cannes Film festival and was given awards and otherwise recognized at the London Film Festival, Rotterdam Arab Film Festival, Carthage Cinema Days Festival, Taormina Film Fest and the British Academy Film Awards. The film stars Tamer Hosny and directed by Ibrahim Al-Batout.

Here is the trailer for the movie followed by the film in its entirety.  
تريلر فيلم عين شمس إخراج إبراهيم البطوط


Yemen Blues Complete Concert at Paléo Festival Nyon (July 2012)

Yemen Blues performed in concert at this year's Paléo Festival Nyon (Switzerland) in July 2012:

Yemen Blues at Paléo Festival 2012 (photo courtesy of Paléo)

Here is the video of the concert by Yemen Blues at this year's Paléo Festival Nyon (Switzerland):

Yemen Blues, Paléo Festival Nyon 2012 (concert... by paleo

Trio Joubran Complete Concert at the Paleo Festival, Switzerland (July 19, 2012)

Le Trio Joubran performed at this year's Paléo Festival in July 2012.

Le Trio Joubran at Paléo Festival Nyon 2012 (photo courtesy of Paléo)

Here is the complete concert by Le Trio Joubran Complete at the Paleo Festival, Switzerland (July 19, 2012):

Trio Joubran, Paléo Festival Nyon 2012 (concert... by paleo

Omar Souleyman Complete Concert at the Paleo Festival Nyon, Switzerland (July 2012)

Omar Souleyman performed at the 2012 Paléo Festival (Switzerland) in July 2012.

Omar Souleyman at Paléo Festival 2012 (photo courtesy of Paléo)

Here is Omar Souleyman's complete concert at Paléo Festival Nyon (July 2012):

DAM Complete Concert at the Paleo Festival (July 2012)

The Palestinian rap/hip hop group DAM performed at this year Paléo Festival (Switzerland) in July 2012.

DAM in concert at Paléo 2012 (photo courstesy of Paléo)

Here is the complete footage of DAM in Concert at the Paleo Festival Nyon, Switzerland in July 2012:

DAM, Paléo Festival Nyon 2012 (concert complet) by paleo

Ibrahim Maalouf Complete Concert at the Paleo Festival Nyon, Switzerland (July 20, 2012)

Ibrahim Maalouf performed in this year's Paléo Festival Nyon (Switzerland).

Ibrahim Maalouf at the Paléo Festival 2012 (photo courtesy of Paléo)

Ibrahim Maalouf Complete Concert at the Paléo Festival Nyon, Switzerland (July 20, 2012)

Ibrahim Maalouf, Paléo Festival Nyon 2012... by paleo

Mashrou' Leila Complete Concert at the Paléo Festival Nyon (July 19, 2012)

The ultra-hip Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila was among the musicians who participated in this year's Paléo Festival Nyon (Switzerland) where they literally rocked the house.

Hamed Sinno of Mashrou' Leila at Paléo Festival 2012 (photo courtesy of Paléo)

Here is a clip from the concert followed by the entire Mashrou' Leila Concert at the 37th Paléo Festival Nyon, Switzerland on July 19, 2012 (including the group's Beiruti version of Jacques Brel's 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' in Arabic and many other new and unreleased gems):

MASHROU' LEILA singing 'Habibi' at the Paléo Festival, July 2012:


Mashrou'Leila, Paléo Festival Nyon 2012 (concert... by paleo

Natacha Atlas Complete Concert at Paléo Festival 2012 (July 18, 2012)

Natacha Atlas at the Paleo Festival 2012 (photo courtesy of Paléo)

Here is the video of Natacha Atlas performing at this year's Paleo Festival:

Natacha Atlas, Paléo Festival Nyon 2012 (concert... by paleo

37th Paléo Festival 2012 'World Village' Showcases Middle Eastern Musicians incl Mashrou' Leila, Natacha Atlas, Omar Souleyman, Trio Joubran, DAM, More...


The 37th Paléo Festival Nyon in Switzerland took place this month from the 17-22 July 2012 and inclkuded a wide array of performers from all over the globe. With six days and nights of festivities, 230,000 spectators, over 210 concerts and shows taking place on six stages, and a total of 200 stalls on site, Paléo Festival Nyon is the biggest open-air festival in Switzerland and one of Europe’s major musical events.

The 'Village du Monde' [World Village] Category this year showcased an array of amazing musicians from the Middle East including Trio Joubran, Mashrou' Leila, Broukar, Omar Souleyman, The Alaev Family, Baba Zula, Ibrahim Maalouf, DAM, Niyaz, Avishai Cohen, Balkan Beat Box, Yemen Blues, Egyptian Project, Jack is Dead and His Iranian Orchestra.

Here is a detailed schedule of this year's 'Village du Monde' performances. Note that all of these were sold out! For full schedule see

Tuesday 17 July 2012
Omar Souleyman
The Alaev Family
Baba Zula
sold out

Wednesday 18 July 2012
Natacha Atlas
The Alaev Family
sold out

Thursday 19 July 2012
Trio Joubran
Mashrou' Leila
sold out

Friday 20 July 2012
Ibrahim Maalouf
sold out

Saturday 21 July 2012
Avishai Cohen
Balkan Beat Box
Yemen Blues
sold out
Sunday 22 July 2012
Balkan Beat Box
Egyptian Project
Jack is Dead & son Orchestre Iranien
sold out

On the menu of the gourmet festivities, Turkish peynirli pide, delicious Lebanese mezze, Syrian mjetdara, pistachio, rose and saffron ice cream from Iran, pastries and many other dishes waiting to be discovered! Spectators were also treated to Yemeni coffee, Lebanese red wine, white wine form Israel and beer form Palestine. All this was offered with the utmost respect for Muslim spectators who started their fast for Ramadan on Friday.


Many of the performances from this year's Middle Eastern performances have been recorded and released on this CD (picture above) which may be purchased at THIS LINK.

The next few entries in my blog will feature concert footage from each of the bands/musicians mentioned above. For more info about teh Festival (in English) see and to view all the videos from this year's festival see

Here are some pictures from some of the performers at this year's festival. All photos below coustresy of Paléo. For a complete list of images, see

Natacha Atlas in concert

Yemen Blues in concert

Mashrou' Leila in concert

Ibrahim Maalouf in concert

Omar Souleyman in concert

Trio Joubran in concert

For more info see

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Moe Kabha's Video Clip: From Chicago to Ramallah

Musician Moe Kabha's latest video is for the popular folk song “Wen Ala Ramallah” (“We’re going to Ramallah”) and in this clip he uses street protest footage from Chicago and Ramallah while showcasing Palestinian dabke.

وين ع رام الله   -  محمد كبها

For more on Moe Kabha:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Naseer Shamma Plays Rossini's Barber of Seville with Oud

Naseer [Naser] Shamma (Arabic: نصير شمه‎) is a renowned Arab Iraqi musician and oud player.  He was born in 1963 in Kut, a city on the Tigris River, to a Fayli Kurdish father and a Khazrajite Arab mother.  He began studying the oud at the age of 12 in Baghdad,and received his diploma from the Baghdad Academy of Music in 1987. He began to teach oud after three years at the academy, as well as continuing his own studies. Shamma has composed music for films, plays and television. (Wikipedia)

Here he is playing Rossini's 'Barber of Seville' with Oud at the Opera House in Cairo in 2011:

نصير شمه يعزف لأول مره (حلاق اشبيليه) لروسيني في دار الاوبرا المصريه
2011/3/22 تحياتي سيف عريبي 

For more on Naseer Shamma see (This site is in English, French and Arabic).

Ramadan Mubarak رمضان مبارك

The holy month of Ramadan officially began today and I would like to take this opportunity to say 'Ramadan Mubarak' to all my Muslim readers, friends, students and colleagues.

Ramzi Salti, Ph.D.
Stanford University

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sapho's Arabic Version of Léo Ferré's 'Avec le temps'

In the spirit of highlighting Arabic versions of well known Western songs, here is Sapho's version (in Arabic) of Léo Ferré 's famous song 'Avec le temps' which was released as part of Sapho's 2006 album titled Sapho chante Léo Ferré – Ferré Flamenco:

Born in 1950 to Jewish parents in Marrakech (Morocco), Sapho (real name Danielle Ebguy) emigrated to France when she was 16.  By 18, she was living on her own in Paris, taking acting lessons, playing guitar and singing on the streets. A short time later, a musician friend convinced her to audition for famed music school, Le Petit Conservatoire de Mireille. Sapho soon abandoned her acting studies in favor of music. Her first LP, Le Balayeur du Rex, was released in 1977 by RCA.

In 1985 Sapho realeased Passions, passons, which saw her leaving the rock sound of her previous albums to embrace the Middle Eastern sounds she had grown up with, leading to a series of concerts at Le Bataclan (Paris). There she began performing her arrangements of songs made popular by the great Egyptian singer Um Kulthum.  Here she is singing Um Kulthum's 'Al-Atlal':

Sapho published two novels and was involved in making a film about the children of the Intifada, In 1992, she focused on the music of Umm Kulthum, releasing a full album of that material and touring the world, even performing in Jerusalem in 1994.

Her next album, Jardin Andalou (1996), blended rock with Arabic and Andalusian elements. This was followed by Digital Sheikha, a more electronic-based album with Pat Jabbar and the contribution of Bill Laswell, for the Swiss label Barraka el Farnatshi.  In 1999, La Route nue des hirondelles was released along with her third novel.  She transformed La Route nue des hirondelles into a stage show, which she toured for the next couple of years, while also continuing with the Umm Kulthum material.

Sapho worked and performed in Bagdad, Jerusalem, Nazareth and Gaza before recording Orients (2003) with a classical orchestra made of Jewish, Muslim and Christian musicians.  In 2005, accompanied on stage by a flamenco guitarist, she focused on material by famous French songwriter and composer Léo Ferré. In 2006, the album Sapho chante Léo Ferré – Ferré Flamenco followed, featuring the song 'Avec le temps' translated into Darija (Moroccan Arabic dialect). Her next album, Universelle, in French, English and Darija is a kind of travel through all of her influences, from blues to traditional sounds. (Wikipedia and other sources)

For more info on Sapho, see her official site at

Mariem Labidi مريم العبيدي Sings Arabic Version of 'Ne Me Quitte Pas'

Algerian singer Mariem Labidi مريم العبيدي has recorded Jacques Brel's classic 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' in Arabic. Here is her version titled ما تودعنيش  which I hope you will enjoy:

Mariem Labidi has also recorded French versions of these Arabic songs: 'Kan Ezzaman' and 'Habbaytak bissayf' and 'Aatini Ennay' by Fairuz . You can hear those as well as other classics for free at or download for free at

For more on Mariem Labidi مريم العبيدي see:

'Words of Witness' Film Tour: A Documentary Project in Brooklyn, NY by Mai Iskander

Words of Witness is a feature-length documentary that follows Heba, a 22 year-old journalist, as she navigates Egypt’s Revolution. Every time Heba heads out to cover the historical events shaping her country’s future, her mother is compelled to remind her, “I know you are a journalist, but you’re still a girl!” Defying cultural and gender norms and family expectations, Heba takes to the streets to report on an Egypt in turmoil, using tweets, texts, and Facebook posts. Her coming of age, political awakening and the disillusionment that follows mirrors that of a nation seeking the freedom to shape its own destiny, dignity and democracy. Described as “RAW AND FASCINATING” by the Wall Street Journal, the film was shot on site in Egypt as the historical events surrounding the revolution unfolded.

Here is the trailer for this film followed by more info about it as well as on ways to get involved if you wish.

Words of Witness premiered with much acclaim at the Berlinale Film Festival earlier this year and had its North American premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June.  The film was also shown as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in late June in New York.  ROCK THE VOTE has teamed up with Words of Witness to co-host the film at both festivals.

The filmmakers need your help in sharing Heba's story and the larger story of Egypt’s revolution. Their  film tour is extremely timely, being released on the heels of the "year of the protester," as the Occupy movement continues to grow in the US and the 2012 presidential election cycle gears up. They plan to screen the film nationwide to over 50 colleges and communities followed by lively discussions bringing together non-profit organizations and diverse audiences.

As an educational supplement to the film, they plan to develop an action-oriented modular lesson to distribute to high school and college teachers, and organizations across the US. Our goal is to teach others about the Egyptian revolution and spark dialogue about the very definition of what makes a democratic society.

Your pledge makes you an active participant, allowing the filmmakers to share the film with audiences across the country and develop our modular lesson plan to reach even further. Check out their amazing pledge rewards and don’t hesitate to get in touch with them.

For more information about the film please visit the website:

Executive Producers of Words of Witness: TIFFANY SCHAUER & STEVEN COHEN

'Garbage Dreams' Screens at Stanford University

The documentary Garbage Dreams screened on July 18 at Stanford as part of the Division of International, Comparative and Area Studies' INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, SUMMER 2012: FEAST TO FAMINE: Global Politics of Food and Water.  The event included a post-screening discussion led by Prof. Lisa Blaydes (Department of Political Science, Stanford).

Garbage Dreams (2009; directed by Mai Iskander) follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world's largest garbage village, on the outskirts of Cairo. It is the home to 60,000 Zaballeen, Arabic for "garbage people." Far ahead of any modern "Green" initiatives, the Zaballeen survive by recycling 80 percent of the garbage they collect. When their community is suddenly faced with the globalization of its trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community. 

Here is the trailer for the movie followed by the film's credits and awards:

Director, Producer & Cinematographer
Mai Iskander

Executive Producer
Tiffany Schauer

Co-Executive Producer
Claudia Miller


Awards World Premiere, SXSW
International Premiere, IDFA
Nominee for Director Guild of America for Best Director
Al Gore Reel Current Award, Nashville Film Festival
IDA Humanitas Award, Inter'l Doc. Association
Special Jury Prize, Dubai Film Festival
Best Documentary, Hollywood Film Festival
Best Documentary, Bermuda Inter'l Film Festival
Best Documentary, Landlocked Film Festival
Best Documentary, Vail Film Festival
Best Documentary, Lone Star Film Festival
World Cinema Best Director, Phoenix Film Festival
World Cinema Audience Award, Phoenix Film Fest.
Best Editing, Woodstock Film Festival
Best Green, Connecticut Film Festival
Silver Screen Award, Nevada Film Festival
Special Jury Award, Montana CINE Inter'l Film Fes.
Golden Palm Award, Mexico Inter'l Film Festival
Human Spirit Award, Ojai-Ventura Film Festival
Best Cinematography (2nd place), Rhode Island Inter'l Film Festival
Best Documentary, Sebastopol Film Festival
Youth Prize, Sguardi Altrove Film Festival
Special Mention, Squardi Altrove Film Festival
Best Documentary, Ashland Independent
Best International Film, Santa Cruz Film Festival
Student Council Provincial Award, Cinemambiente
First Prize, Feature Length Film, Eco Films Rodos
Best Green, Dokufest Kosovo Film Festival
Starring Adham, Nabil, Osama & Laila
Directed By Mai Iskander
Produced By Mai Iskander

Contact Info

"GARBAGE DREAMS is a moving story of young men searching for a ways to eke out a living for their families and facing tough choices as they try to do the right thing for the planet." - AL GORE

Rami Alayan's 'Private Sun' Screening in Providence, RI

Director Rami Alayan's 2011 short film titled 'Private Sun' will be screening on August 8 at 4pm in Providence, Rhode Island.  For more infio about this screening please see

'Private Sun' (Run time: 25 min. | Palestinian Territories | Language: Arabic) tells the story of Mariam who is instructed by her doctor to sunbathe in order to reverse the vitamin D deficiency that is causing her a bone illness. But with nosy neighbors, an overbearing sister-in-law and Israeli surveillance planes, private moments under the sun are precious and rare.

The film is directed by Rami Alayan and includes cast members Abeer El Masou (Lead Actor), Mohammad Awwad (Lead Actor), Nicolas Jarad (Lead Actor), and Shaden Saleem (Lead Actor).

Here is the trailer for the movie:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alif Ensemble Touring UK in July 2012

One of the most exciting new projects to step out of the Arab world, Alif Ensemble brings together musicians from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq in a beguiling blend of inspiring acoustic and contemporary electronic sounds.

Conceived by multi-talented oud player Khyam Allami, Alif Ensemble sees him team up with two of the most inventive and independent Arabic musicians; Palestinian composer and vocalist Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and Egyptian electronica musician Maurice Louca. Together they work on new music with a band of musicians from both traditional and contemporary Arabic music disciplines, including Ayman Mabrouk (Egypt) on percussion, Khaled Yassine (Lebanon) on percussion, Khaled Omran (Syria) on bass and Yarob Smarait (Jordan) on violin.

"Alif Ensemble proved themselves nothing less than revelatory" The Double Negative (on the group's premier at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 15 July 2012)

"[Khyam Allami] epitomises the best of the new generation of oud players... utterly bewitching" Songlines

“Khyam Allami has left a trail of unforgettable live performances in his wake” Froots

Sunday 22 July
Asia Stage, BT River of Music Festival
Battersea Park, London

Alif Ensemble will perform at 15:55

For full festival line-up and stage times:

The event is free but ticketed (£3 booking fee). Please order your tickets online from:


Here are some teasers and samples from Alif Ensemble's music:

For more info about Alif Ensemble: 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ahmed Benchemsi's New Piece about Feb 20's Rise and Fall: A Moroccan Story

"Feb 20's Rise and Fall: A Moroccan Story" by Ahmed Benchemsi.

Developed as part of Ahmed Benchemsi's Stanford research program, this article is the outcome of a one year-long investigation on Morocco's "Arab Spring" protest movement. It explains how and why young pro-democracy activists rocked the kingdom like never before, but were ultimately outplayed by the autocratic, wily monarchy.

Read more here:

The article is a short version of a book chapter from “Taking to the Streets: Activism, Arab Uprisings, and Democratization”, a forthcoming collection co-edited by Lina Khatib (Stanford University) and Ellen Lust (Yale University), to be published in 2013 by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Check out Ahmed Benchemsi's blog at

Monday, July 16, 2012

Nancy Ajram Revamps Her Songs for 'Coke Studio'

Lebanese singing sensation Nancy Ajram, known for her mainstream appeal and multi-million dollar endorsements, did something quite refreshing lately during her guest spot on 'Coke Studio' (Arabic version)--a music show that airs weekly on the Arabic TV station MBC--by re-recording her classics and well as other traditional Arabic songs in a new way that fuses Eastern and Western beats in what might be labeled as an alternatively ingenious way.

Coke Studio is a unique music show, hosted by Michel Elefteriades, that is different from every show that is airing on television. It is a show that brings together an Arab artist and an international artist to collaborate and record an original fusion song meshing two or more unique genres of music. The week Nancy appeared on the show, Oriental Music met Flamenco Music as Nancy Ajram met Jose Galves who comes from a pure Gypsy Spanish tradition. They came together to create a fusion where Oriental Pop met Spanish Flamenco music.

Here are some video clips of Nancy Ajram memorable performance on the show which aired in May 2012. For more on Coke Studio (Arabic Version) visit

Nancy Ajram & Jose Galvez singing 'Haly Haly Hal' together in Spanish and Arabic:

Nancy Ajram's revamped/updated version of her classic hit "Lawn Oyounak" [The Color of Your Eyes].
Compare with the original version at

Nancy Ajram singing the revamped version of 'Akhasmak Ah'
Compare with the original version at Helping (Arab) Filmmakers Fund Their Films

Aflamnah is a digital platform that helps independent filmmakers, artists, scientists, students, innovators, thinkers and more to raise funds for their projects by getting people excited enough to financially support their idea so that they can make it happen.

Aflamnah is a digital platform that helps independent filmmakers, artists, scientists, students, innovators, thinkers and more to raise funds for their projects by getting people excited enough to financially support their idea so that they can make it happen.

For more info about Aflamnah see and

Here are six of the films that you can help fund or promote through the site along with a bit of info and video clip from each work:

1. ABU RAMI: THE FILM ( by Sabah Haider in Lebanon )

Abu Rami – The Film: This film tells a story of how Mona, an elderly Muslim Lebanese woman is suffocating inside a tattered marriage as she is plagued with suspicions of infidelity of her taxi-driver husband Abu Rami, a man who is absent even in his presence. The film, set in an unspecified location in Lebanon, follows Mona on the day where chance circumstances trigger her to confront Abu Rami with her suspicions, and both their lives change forever.

Here is a video clip about Abu Rami:

To support this film go to

2. ADEELA (by Nicholas Ybarra in United States)

Adeela tells the story of a young Muslim American woman dealing with oppression in a small conservative town. Upon moving to this new area, she catches the eye of a councilman’s son, Aaron. Together, the couple push for Adeela to sing the national anthem at the town’s annual 4th of July Festival. But with interference from Aaron’s brother and father, the goal becomes an obstacle, and one that could change both of their lives, and the town, forever.

Here is a video clip about Adeela:

To help fund Adeela go to

3. JOURNEY IN MIGRATION (by Hind Shoufani in Palestine)

This is an art house feature-length documentary exploring the last 60 years of Palestinian politics seen through the prism of the life of the Director's father, Dr Elias Shoufani, a leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, an academic writer and leftist intellectual who worked with Fateh (but was one of the leaders of the opposition to Arafat) for over 20 years.

Here is a video clip:

To help fund Journey in Migration go to

4. THE KIDNAP (by Dima Hamdan in Jordan)

The Kidnap tells the story of Ali who is taking revenge for a crime that Hasan committed 20 years ago. If the secret is exposed, then Hasan’s reputation and career will be in jeopardy. But time is running out and there is no easy solution; he can either save himself, or his family. Hasan is a Jordanian police chief with the world at his feet. He’s a powerful man at work, and a proud husband awaiting the birth of his first child. But his world is torn apart when his pregnant wife, Amal, is kidnapped two days before she’s due to give birth.

Here is a video clip:

To help fund this film go to

5. WAJD: MUSIC, POLITICS & ECSTASY (by Dima Alansari / Amar Chebib in Canada)

From the crowded streets of Damascus, to a traditional Aleppine courtyard, into an intimate Sufi lodge of Istanbul, Syrian-Canadian filmmaker Amar Chebib invites us into a deeply personal journey exploring traditional Arab-Ottoman music and its delicate relationship with Islam and the state. Through a poetic narrative, riveting interviews and ecstatic musical performances with some of Western Asia’s most significant musicians, academics, and spiritual figures, we uncover what makes this music so evocative, why some religious/political authorities forbade it while others embraced it, and the influential role played by Rumi and the Mevlevi Sufi Order in preserving it.

Here is a video clip about this film:

To help fund Wajd go to

6. WHEN I SAW YOU (by Annemarie Jacir in Jordan)

Set in Jordan in 1967, When I Saw You (Lamma Shoftak) follows the story of Tarek, an eccentric and unbounded young boy, and his mother Ghaydaa, who have just become refugees from Palestine. Except Tarek is a boy with a free spirit and curious nature; one that doesn’t allow anyone to limit his dreams…

Here is a video clip from this film:

To help fund When I Saw You go to

For more info about these films and others go to

When Monaliza Smiled: A New Film by Fadi Haddad

The Jordanian film When Monaliza Smiled - لما ضحكت موناليزا   will be released soon, according to the film's Facebook page.  WHEN MONALIZA SMILED is a romantic comedy about a love story between Jordanian Monaliza, and Egyptian Hamdi, set in present day Amman among a community of nosy stereotypes and quirky characters.

Starring Tahani Salim, Shady Khalaf, Haifa Al Agha, Nadera Omran, Fuad Shomali, Suha Najjar, Haidar Kfouf.

Written and directed by Fadi G. Haddad
Produced by Nadia Eliewat
Executive Producer Nadine Toukan

Music from the film's soundtrack, composed by Dr. Najati Suloh, with Maestro Aziz Maraka
Director of Photography Samer Nimri
Production Designer Amjad Al Rasheed
Art Director Rand AbdelNoor
Sound Supervisor Falah Hannoun
Produced through the support of the education feature film program of the Royal Film Commission-Jordan
Filmed on location in Amman, Jordan

Annemarie Jacir's Second Film 'When I Saw You' Nears Completion just announced that Annemarie Jacir’s second feature film “When I Saw You” is near-complete. Set in Jordan in 1967, When I Saw You (Lamma Shoftak) follows the story of Tarek, an eccentric and unbounded young boy, and his mother Ghaydaa, who have just become refugees from Palestine. Except Tarek is a boy with a free spirit and curious nature; one that doesn’t allow anyone to limit his dreams…

This low budget, independent film was made possible because of the support and generosity of several organizations and people including the Sanad, AFAC, Abu Dhabi Film Commission, K. Shoman Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Dubai Film Connection, Landmark Hotel, Thessaloniki Post Production Award, ATICO, …

The Director needs your support for the final part of the process…. She has begun the process of festival submissions, creating marketing materials like posters, postcards, etc., updating their very out of date website.  

The success of this campaign depends on your contribution. Filmmaking is a collaborative effort -- it takes a crew, a cast, and supporters like you. And most of all, an audience.

Facebook Page:
Twitter: @PhilistineFilms and @AnnemarieJacir

'Zayi Zayak' Gender Equality Campaign Overtakes Amman, Jordan

June 2012 saw a campaign titled زيي . . . زيك [Arabic for 'I Am...Like You'] overtake the streets of the Jordanian capital Amman. It included men and women holding anthems and slogans in the streets declaring freedom for women from oppreession, including marital rape. The campaign aimed at eradicating honor crimes and placing women on an equal social status with men. It also demanded the right to Jordanian citizenship for non-Jordanian husbands of Jordanian women.

The campaign demanded the full application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Arab women just as for men. This chart, according to them,  comes before any State, any culture, any tradition, any mentality.

Here is a video of the peaceful demonstration in Amman followed by pictures of the slogans (with my English translation):

These pictures were taken from the following Facebook Pages: and [Women's Intifada] (Arabic slogans translated into English below each picture by yours truly):

I Like to Cook Too!

Your Customs Are Killing Me

Why Do You Care About What She's Wearing?

I Am Made for More than Just Standing at the Kitchen Sink

Why Should She Be Locked Up at Home?

I Am the Queen of Myself

My Right to Citizenship Is Not Charity Or Impossible to Attain

Don't Take Out Your Sexual Frustration on Me

I Am...Like You:  I Can Work in Whatever Field I Want

For more info about related issues see

10th Anniversary of Dr. Ramzi Salti's Arabology Program Features All Episodes on Soundcloud + YouTube (Click here)

All 13 seasons of Dr. Ramzi Salti's  Arabology  podcasts  are now available on Soundcloud, for a total of 101 episodes. Additionally, al...