Saturday, December 21, 2013

Top 30 alternative/indie Arabic Songs of 2013 Featured on Dec 20 'Arabology' Podcast

This year-end episode of 'Arabology' (aired Dec 20) showcases and discusses the Top 30 alternative/indie Arabic songs of 2013 along with exclusive shout-outs by some of the artists whose music is featured, including Tania Kassis, Tania Saleh, Hamed Sinno [Mashrou' Leila], Yassir Chadly, Yasmine Hamdan, May Nasr, Eliyahu Sills, Rania Kurdi, DAM, Mike Massy, and Omar Offendum.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the arrow below or at

Top 30 Songs 2013 for Arabology 20 Dec 2013 DJ: Ramzi S.

1.  Massar Egbari/ Iqra2 El Khabar/ Iqra2 El Khabar/ Massar Egbari
2.  Akher Zephir/ Akherto Lahn Hazin/ Counter Culture/ Eka3
3.  Mashrou' Leila/ Abdo/ Raasuk/ Mashrou' Leila Preceded by message from Hamed Sinno
4.  Sadat & Alaa Fifty Cent/ Five Pound Credit/ Generation Bass/ Six Degrees Records 
5.  Hello, Psychaleppo!/ Tobayabooya/ Gool L'Ah/ Samer Saem Eldahr
6.  Abdulrahman Mohammad/ Asabaki 3ishq/ Abdulrahman Mohammed
7.  Omeima El Khalil,/ Shab Y Sabiyeh/ Ya/ Forward Music 
8.  Ensemble Ibn Arabi/ Her Words Bring Me to Life Again/Arabo-Andalusian Sufi Songs/ Long Distance France
9.  DAM/ If I Could Go Back In Time/ Debke On The Moon/ DAM Preceded by message from DAM
10. Stormtrap/ Taht El Agal/ Stormtrap/Stormtrap Asfeh
11. Elepheel+Edd Abbas+Lipos/ Master Cosmic Spy/ Tripnol/ Edd Abbas/Lipos/Elepheel
12. Jadal/ Fe Nabd Ana Has/ El Makina/ Mahmoud Radaideh
13. Rania Kurdi/ Ana Ana/ Sasha Abi Najmeh/ Rania Kurdi Preceded by message from Rania Kurdi
14. Michelle & Noel Keserwany/ Jagal El USEK/ Jagal El USEK/ Keserwany
15. Tania Kassis/ Ounchoudat Bayrout/ Oriental Colors/ Magnum Records Preceded by message from Tania Kassis
16. Zeid Hamdan/ Asfeh (Acoustic)/ Single/ Lebanese Undergroud
17. Mike Massy/ Ya 3achikat Al Ward/ Ya Zaman/  Falak Productions Preceded by message from Mike Massy
18. Jowan Safadi & Haya Zaatry/ Ji2tu ila Ahli/ Ghanni 3n Al-Taareef/
19. Ziyad Sahhab/ Kaza Kitab/ Keep On Singing/ Forward Music
20. Tania Saleh/ Hashishet Albi (Live)/ Live At Drm/ Forward Music Preceded by message from Tania Saleh
21. Labess/ El Kass Yadour/ Identite/ Needlepoint Records
22. Khaled/ Laila/ C'est La Vie/ Universal Music France
23. Rachid Taha/ Now Or Never/ Zoom/ Naive
24. Omar Offendum/ The Arab Speaks of Rivers & Finjan/ Syrianamericana/ Cosher Ink Preceded by message from Omar Offendum
25. Yassir Chadly/ Bil Mustapha/ Asheeq Zeen/ Yassir Chadly Preceded by message from Yassir Chadly
26. Khaled Aljaramani/ Farah/ Athar/ Institut Du Monde Arabe & Harmonia Mundi
27. Mohamed Abozekry and  Heejaz/ Sur La Route/ Chaos/ Neonovo
28. Eliyahu & The Qadim Ensemble/ Maghrebi/ Eastern Wind/ Self Release Preceded by message from Eliyahu Sills
29. May Nasr/ Ouhibuka (Lyrics by Ghada Samman)/ Single/ May Nasr Preceded by message from May Nasr
30. Yasmine Hamdan/ Nediya/ Ya Nass/ Crammed Discs Preceded by message from Yasmine Hamdan

'Arabology' is a weekly radio program, currently in its sixth season, which airs on KZSU 90.1 FM (San Francisco bay area).  It is hosted by Dr. Ramzi Salti, Lecturer at Stanford University, who showcases and discusses (mostly alternative) Arabic music, along with interviews + commentary in English. Previous Podcasts at

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Square: Documentary Examines Egyptian Revolution Behind the Headlines

The Square is an award winning documentary that follows a group of Egyptian revolutionaries as they battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society of conscience.

You can watch the trailer below or at

Basic Info:
Release Date: January 17, 2014
Genre: Documentary
Studio: Noujaim Films
Awards:  2013 Sundance Film Festival - Audience Award, Toronto Intl Film Festival - People's Choice Award
Starring Khalid Abdalla, Magdy Ashour, Ahmed Hassan, Ragia Omran, Ramy Essam, Aida El Kashef
Directed By Jehane Noujaim
Produced By Karim Amer

For more info:

Norient Film Festival Highlights Chaabi and Electro-Sha’abi Music/Films from Algiers and Cairo

The 5th Norient Music Film Festival is taking place from January 9-11, 2014 in Bern, Switzerland.  Norient officially selected eight films for the upcoming festival and invited several filmmakers, musicians and dj's to Bern. Highlights are the first Egyptian Electro-Sha’abi night of Switzerland, and two films

Chaabi and Electro-Sha’abi from Algiers and Cairo

El Gusto 89′ (Swiss Premiere. In presence of film-director) Safinez Bousbia, Algeria, 2013«When talking from Algier, you are automatically also talking of Chaabi-music» explains musician Ahmed Bernaoui: «This is my great passion, that’s what I am living through and for». «El Gusto» is the story of an Algerian Chaabi-orchestra. His Jewish and Muslim companions were separated fifty years ago by the Algerian civil war and live now scattered across France and Algeria. With t «El Gusto»,  filmmaker Safinez invites us to listen to the stories of their lives with a universal aim: Uniting the Jewish musicians in France and the Muslim musicians in Algeria in order to get them to play their music together once again.  Here is a preview of the film:

Electro Chaabi 76′ Hind Meddeb, France, Egypt, 2013
The big thing in Cairo is something called Techno-Sha’bi or Electro-Sha’abi.  Born in the urban slums of Cairo, this music was subsequently discovered by experimental musicians as well as multinational companies. Director Hind Meddeb (in attendance at event) invites the spectators to take a plunge into the heart of the Electro-Sha’abi world.  Here is a trailer (

Cairo Electro-Sha’abi Clubnight!
This unique event features MC Sadat, MC Alaa 50 Cent, DJ Ramy (Egypt); Cairo Liberation Front (Netherlands); Rocco al-Nigretti (Egypt); Special guest: FOKN Bois (Ghana)
On the occasion of the RELEASE of NORIENT LP «Sonic Traces: From the Arab World» – NORIENT and the 5th NORIENT Music-Film-Festival invite you to «shake your booty» at the first grand Electro-Sha’abi Club-Night of Switzerland.
Here is a sample of the music that will be included by MC Sadat & MC Alaa 50 Cent (follow at

A sample from Cairo Liberation Front Presents Guns 'N Mozes: Egyptian Democrazy: 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rebel Music: New MTV Series about Revolutionary Music Worldwide

'Rebel Music' is an MTV world series which includes six 30-minute episodes of “Rebel Music” that examine the lives of young people using art and music to spark change around the world. The series can be viewed at mtvU and

Episode about Egypt:

Episode about Palestine/Israel:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dec 12 Arabology Podcast ft Songs about Religious Tolerance, Social Equality, Civil/LGBT Rights, More.

The Dec 12 episode of Arabology broaches the issue of tolerance in the Arab world by showcasing music about religious coexistence, social equality, LGBT rights, Arab American identity and more. Show also includes interview with 'Alhurra' TV producer Louis Karim.

Playlist for Arabology Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 4-6 pm DJ: Ramzi S. (Artist/Track/Album/Label)
1. Tania Kassis/ Islamo-Christian Ave/ Live at l'Olympia/ Tania Kassis
2. Labess/ Bechar El Khir/ Identite/ Needlepoint Records
3. Khaled/ Samira/ C'est La Vie/ Universal Music France
4. Rachid Taha/ Now Or Never/ Zoom/ Naive
5. Jawhar/ Idhalil / Qibla wa Qobla/ NAFF REKORDZ
6. Jowan Safadi & Haya Zaatry/ Ji2tu ila ahli / ghanni 3an al-tareef/
7. Jam Tkseer/ Qaseeda shrera/ ghanni 3an al-tareef/
8. Khaled Aljaramani,/ Farah/ Athar/ Institut Du Monde Arabe & Harmonia Mundi
9. Massar Egbari/ Wana Kol Ma2oul/ Iqra2 El Khabar/ Massar Egbari
10. Mohamed Abozekry and Heejaz/ Sur La Route/ Chaos/ Neonovo
11. Saif Karomi/ Malouna/ The Sound of Oud/ Saif Karomi
12. Interview with Louis Karim/ Producer for 'Alhurra' TV
13. Tania Saleh/ Yimkin Law/ Live At DRM/ Forward Music
14. Breaking the Boundaries & Abdulrahman Mohammed/ Ya mn hawah/ N/A
15. The Idan Raichel Project/ Azini/ Idan Raichel Project/ Cumbancha
16. Mashrou' Leila/ Lil Watan/ Raasuk/ Mashrou' Leila
17. Pangia/ Nasam 'alayna El-Hawa/ Mystic Blue Caravan Vol 7/ Pangia
18. NO Blues/ Hela Hela/ Hela Hela/ Continental Record Services

Listen at

My Interview with 'Alhurra' TV Producer Louis Karim

You can listen to the interview at

DJ Ramzi (right) with Louis Karim (left) at KZSU 90.1 FM
The Dec 12, 2013 episode of Arabology included an interview with 'Alhurra' TV producer Louis Karim who spoke about the role of TV and the media as well as his own experiences and TV journey to success. Click below to listen to the interview segment which begins at minute 59.

Friday, December 6, 2013

12/5 'Arabology' Podcast ft Bassam Kassab, Amr Adly, 2 NEW Songs by Mike Massy

Listen below or at

This episode of 'Arabology' aired on Dec 5, 2013 and featured poignant Arabic music, including two exclusive tracks by Lebanese singer/composer Mike Massy.
Show also features 5-part interview with Lebanese American writer/film producer/human rights activist Bassam Kassab + interview with Amr Adly, Postdoctoral Fellow at CDDRL (Stanford University) who discusses issues related to the political economy of Egypt and Tunisia.

Playlist for Arabology Thurs 5 December 2013  4-6 PM  DJ: Ramzi (Artist/Track/Album/Label)
1.  Khaled/ Laila/ C'est La Vie/Universal Music France
2.  Labess/El Kass Yadour/Identite/Needlepoint Records
3.  Rachid Taha/Wesh (N'amal)/Zoom/Naive
4.  Interview with Bassam Kassab (Lebanese American writer/activist//producer)/Part 1
5.  Fairuz/Addayash Kan Fi Nas/Best of Fairuz/EMI Arabia
7.  Interview with Bassam Kassab (short story excerpts)/Part 2
8.  Marwan Anwer/Ah min al foraq/Marwan Anwar/N/A
9.  Interview with Bassam Kassab (Arabic Poem)/Part 3
10. Mike Massy/Farewell/Unreleased/Mike Massy
11. Interview with Bassam Kassab (Toul Omry Film, Zarco)/Part 4
12. Mike Massy/Yammi/Unreleased Demo (World Premiere)/Mike Massy
13. Interview with Bassam Kassab (Sin Visa, Bi.Das)/ Part 5
14. Mike Massy/Soti Hareb Menni/Ya Zaman/Falak Productions
15. Massar Egbari (Egypt)/Wana Kol Ma2oul/Iqra2al Khabar/Massar Egbari
16. Interview with Amr Adly, Postdoctoral Fellow at CDDRL--Stanford University
17. Ramy Essam Taty Taty Rough Guide Arabic Revolution/World Music Network
18. Fairuz/ 3indi Thiqa Feek/Kifak Inta/Digital Press Hellas

Listen above or at

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Two Arabic Shorts to Screen at Roxie in San Francisco on Thurs Dec 5

On Thursday Dec. 5th, the small Roxie theater in San Francisco will host the premiere of Nadia Shihab's “Amal's Garden” and Farah Kassem's “My Father Looks Like Abdel Nasser”. Shot in northern Iraq and Lebanon, both half-hour films are semi-experimental documentaries and family portraits that made their debut at the Dubai International Film Festival last year. Co-presented by the Arab Film Festival and the GAZE Film Series.

Showtimes: 5:00 & 7:00, with short Q&A with director Nadia Shihab.

This is a SMALL theater. Reserve your tickets! by going to this link.

Amal's Garden (

Amal and Mustafa have shared a long life together in northern Iraq. When Amal decides to finally renovate their home after a decade of war, Mustafa retreats to the garden, where he encounters the curious gaze of his grandniece and her camera. An intimate snapshot of life at the boundary of destruction and renewal, AMAL’S GARDEN is the unexpected portrait of one Turkmen couple moving forward in a new Iraq. (33 min)

Director Bio:
Nadia Shihab is a filmmaker and musician based in San Francisco. Born to an Iraqi mother and Yemeni father, she is interested in the multiple narratives that arise from place and displacement, and often uses her family history as a starting point for experimental storytelling. She has received awards from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, ITVS, Pacific Pioneer Fund, Bay Area Video Coalition, and has been a filmmaker-in-residency with the San Francisco Film Society.

My Father Looks Like Abdel Nasser (

Moustapha is in his late 70’s. He suffers from a sleeping disorder and is a poet, belonging to a past generation. His daughter comes to visit regularly. She films the life, poetry, memory surrounding her father after the death of her mother... In the intimacy of the father’s whispered revelations, she tries to find answers to questions she never dared to ask. (33 min)

Director Bio:
Born in Tripoli, Lebanon in 1987, Farah Kassem finished a BA degree in Audiovisual studies from ALBA (Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts). Since 2008, Farah has been working as a director, editor and D.O.P on many documentaries for both Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera documentary channels, in addition to many independent cinema projects in Lebanon and other countries.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

11/21 Arabology Podcast ft Kristian Davis Bailey, Yasmine Hamdan, Mona Mansour

This episode of 'Arabology' aired on Nov 21, 2013 and included interviews with Stanford student/activist Kristian Davis Bailey who spoke about his trip to the West Bank; Lebanese American playwright Mona Mansour who continued our conversation from last week's show; and Yasmine Hamdan in a special segment of an interview that had previously been aired in its entirety on 'Arabology.  Also includes a special remix of Yasmine Hamdan's 'Shouei" plus a slew of other Arabic songs and music. Listen to the podcast below or at

Playlist for Arabology Thurs, 21 November 2013 4pm - 6pm DJ: Ramzi S.
1. Chamamyan, Lena/Henna w Zahr Intro/Ghazl El Banat/Chamamyan
2. Land Of Kush/ Faint Praise/Big Mango/Constellation Records
3. Khaled/Bab Jenna (Gate Of Heaven) /C'est La Vie/Universal Music France
4. Taha, Rachid/Zoom Sur Oum/Zoom/Naive
5. Breaking the boundaries & Abdulrahman mohammed/Ya mn hawah/single//AM
6. Mashrou' Leila/Bahr/Raasuk/Mashrou' Leila
7. Nahhas, Macadi/Natalie/Single/Macadi Nahhas
8. Rizk, Rasha & Ibrahim Suleimany/Ya Rait/Baytna/Itar Shameh
9. Saleh, Tania/Tlaa min hayete/Live at DRM/Forward Music
10. Interview with Lebanese American playwright Mona Mansour/Pt 2 (Pt 1 aired last week)
11. Fairuz/Nihna wil amar jiran /Live at Royal Festival Hall, London 1986/EMI
12. Hamdan, Yasmine/Ya Nass/Ya Nass/Crammed Discs
13. Interview with Yasmine Hamdan (segment only) Complete interview aired on previous show
14. Hamdan, Yasmine/ Shouei (EPI Remix)/Single/EPI
15. Banna, Rim/Ras Al-Jabal/Al-Rawa'i (Greatest Hits)/Laser
16. Interview with Kristian Davis Bailey/Part 1/Arabology/KZSU
17. Ramzi Aburedwan/Sodfa/Rough Guide Mediterranean/World Music Network
18. Interview with Kristian Davis Bailey/Part 2/Arabology/KZSU

Abdulrahman Mohammed: Classical Poetry Revived through Song

'Ya Man Hawah' is a song that was recorded by a local Saudi rock band, Breaking the Boundaries
Featuring an Arabic vocalist, Abdulrahman Muhammad, singing the lyrics which are
Lyrics taken from an old Arabic heritage poem by Said Ibn Ahmad Ibn Said.
من روائع الشعر التراثي -ابيات يا من هواه اعزه و اذلنيي كيف السبيل الى وصالك دلني- بأسلوب جديد



يا من هواهُ أعّزهُ وأذّلني
القصيدة الأصلية لـ: سعيد ابن احمد ابن سعيد
غناء: عبد الرحمن محمد

يا من هواهُ أعّزهُ وأذّلني
كيفَ السبيلُ إلى وصالك .. دُلني
أنتَ الذي حـَلّفتَني وحـَلفتَ لي
وحـَلفتَ أنك لا تخون .. فـخـُنتني
وحلفت أنك لا تميل مع الهوى
أين اليمين..؟ وأين ما عاهدتني..؟
تركتني حيران صباً هائماً
أرعى النجومَ وأنتَ في عيشٍ هني
لأقـُعدَنً على الطريق وأشتكي
وأقولُ مظلومٌ وأنت ظلمتني
ولأدعون عليك في غسق الدجى
يبليكَ ربي مثلما أبليتني

- Vocals - Abdulrahman Mohammed غناء والحان / الفنان عبدالحمن محمد
- Lead guitar- Dr. Mohab Omar عزف جيتار وتوزيع موسيقى/ د.مهاب عمر
- back vocals and bass guitar - Dr. Mohab omar
- Rhythm guitar - Dr. Moayad Al-Qurashi عزف جيتار/ د.مؤيد القرشي
- Drums - Dr. Omar Raslan الايقاع / د.عمر رسلان

عبدالرحمن و مهاب.
Breaking the boundaries &abdulrahman
Recorded by: MR.Diyaa ahmed azzony @libra studio
Twitter : @BTBrockband

Saturday, November 16, 2013

11/14 Arabology Podcast ft interviews w/ Arash Aramesh, Mona Mansour, Yazan Khalifeh

11/14 Arabology podcast ft interviews w/ Arash Aramesh (National Security Adviser for the Stanford Law School); Mona Mansour (Lebanese American playwright of 'Urge for Going'); and Jordanian caricaturist Yazan Khalifeh whose works can be viewed at  Show also  ft Arabic music by Yasmine Hamdan, مشروع ليلى Mashrou' Leila, Tania Saleh, Rachid Taha, Hiba Tawaji, Pangia Raks, Donia Samir Ghanem | دنيا سمير غانم and tribute to Cheb i Sabbah.

You can listen to the podcast below or at

Playlist for Arabology Thurs, 14 Nov 2013 4pm - 6pm DJ: Ramzi S.
1. Kulna Sawa/Iza3at Kulna Sawa/Kulna Sawa/Kulna Sawa
2. Interview w/ Arash Aramesh/National Security Analyst at Stanford Law School/Arabology
3. Rachid Taha/Now Or Never/Zoom/Naive
4. Mashrou' Leila/Ma Tetrikni Heik/Raasuk/Mashrou' Leila
5. Hiba Tawajy/La Bidayi wala Nihayi/ La Bidayi Wala Nihayi/Oussama Rahbani
6. Pangia/ Maryam, Maryamti (Finale)/Mystic Blue Caravan Vol 7/Pangia Vol 5
7. Interview w/ Lebanese American Playwright Mona Mansour/'Urge for Going' Play/Arabology
8. Donia Samir Ghanem/El Wa2t Byesrana/Wahda Tania Khalis/Roznama
9. Yasmine Hamdan/ La Mouch/Ya Nass/Crammed Discs
10.Tania Saleh/Yimkin Law/Live at DRM/Forward Music
11.Donia Samir Ghanem/Qisat Shita/Wahda Tania Khalis/Roznama
12.Interview with Yazan Khalifeh/Jordanian Caricature Artist/ Arabology.  See link.
13.Fairuz/El Bint El Chalabiya/Eh, Fi Amal/Fbe
14.Tribute to Dj Cheb I Sabbah/ Durga Puja/ Maha Maya/Six Degrees Records

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hiba Tawaji Sings Arabic Version of 'Windmills of My Mind'

La Bidayi Wala Nihayi (The Windmills Of Your Mind) by Hiba Tawaji (
taken from Byblos International Festival's live performance(july2013) with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine conducted by Volodimir Sirenks.
Lyrics: Mansour Rahbani
Music : Michel Legrand
Orchastration : Oussama Rahbani
Produced by: Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani
Directed By: Marwan Rahbani
Post Production: Kolja Digital Works

This is the official video, taken from Hiba Tawaji's Live concert performance at the Palais des Congres Dbayeh (November 2011).

Lyrics : Mansour Rahbani
Music : Michel Legrand
Orchestration, Adaptation : Oussama Rahbani

Here are the lyrics in Arabic to Hiba Tawaji's 'La Bidayi wala Nihayi' [No beginning or End] which is the Arabic version of 'The Windmills of Your Mind':

لا بداية و لا نهاية

ليش صيف السنة انتهى بسرعة واحمرت احراش الغار

والمرا اللى شعرا احمر متلن شعلانة بالنار

لا بداية ولا نهاية والوقت مارق غريب

متل مرورى بافكارك لحظة بتلمع و بتغيب

يا عصافير السهل الجايى تبشر بشتى تشرين

وجوه واسامى ببالى جدا يذكرنى لمين

الدنيى حلقة عم بتدور والقمر بالسما يدور

صيف السنة انطرنا القمر ع سطوح السهر تايطل

وهدينا عقارب الساعة خايفين الوقت ليفل

ما فى قوة بهالدنيى بتاخر هبوب الريح

شعرك والكرز واللوز باول الموسم تلويح

يا عصافير السهل الجايى تبشر بشتى تشرين

وجوه واسامى ببالى حدا يذكرنى لمين

الدنيى حلقة عم بتدور والقمر بالسما يدور

انت حولى وانا حولك فى شى جاذبنا ومندور

الصيف انتهى ماقلتلك شى بيزعل ليش زعلان

العشاق بتبقى اساميهن على الموج وع الشطئان

سامع متلى صوت الجرس مدرى بايا وديان

عم ينده لحدا ضايع بدو يدلو ع الايمان

مطرح صبيعك ع كتفى عم يحرقنى من ايام

يمكن لو بتبسلى المطرح تهدا اوجاعى وبنام

صيف السنة انتهى بسرعة و احمرت احراش الغار

والمرا اللى شعرا احمر متلن شعلانة بالنار

لا بداية ولا نهاية والوقت مارق غريب

وانا بتذكرنى وبغيب بمرق ببالك وبروح

مين بدو يداوي الجروح؟

Hiba Tawaji was born on December 10, 1987, in Achrafieh-Beirut. Hiba is a Lebanese singer, actress, and director. She sings in Arabic, English & French and other languages, both oriental and occidental music.
She interprets different music styles such as oriental music, pop, jazz, Rnb, Opera ... as well as being a coloratura soprano with a four - octave vocal range.  She has admired Oussama Rahbani (producer, composer and son of the Music legend Mansour Rahbani) from a very young age, and always dreamt of meeting and working with him.

That dream came true in January of 2007, when she met Oussama and started a successful career alongside him. From 1990 and until 2005, Tawaji studied in Athenee de Beyrouth School, and got her French Baccalaureate in French literature. From 2002 until 2005, she took singing lessons and solfege at Ecole De Musique Ghassan Yammine.

She also took for many years private opera lessons with Galina Khaldeeva.

From 2007 and to the present day, she has been developing vocal techniques and interpretation with Lebanese producer and composer Oussama Rahbani. As well as taking vocal lessons with Lebanese singer and vocal coach Wadih Abi Raad & opera singer Nonna Manoyan.

From May 2010 until July 2010, she took vocal lessons with Emmy Award winner Gwen Conley in New York.  In that same period, she followed a three-month intensive acting workshop at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York.  In 2012 she followed a 4 week intensive musical theatre workshop at New York Film Academy in Manhattan.

Hiba Tawaji's Music videos :

2008 - Metl el rih - (Directed by Joe Bou Eid)

(Produced, Composed & orchestrated by Oussama Rahbani,

Lyrics by Mansour Rahbani, for the musical play "The return of the phoenix" )

2011 - Helm - ( Directed by Hiba tawaji)

(Produced, composed & orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani,

Lyrics by Ghadi Rahbani, taken from the album "la bidayi w la nihayi")

2011 - 3al bal ya watanna - ( Directed by Hiba Tawaji )

(Produced, composed & orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani,

Lyrics by Ghadi Rahbani, taken from the musical play & album "Don Quixote" by Marwan, Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani)

2011 - Machyi w ma baarif la weyn - (Directed by Marwan Rahbani )

(Produced, composed & orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani,

Lyrics by Ghadi Rahbani, taken from the stage performance in the musical play "Don Quixote" by Marwan, Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani)

2011 - Min elli byekhtar -(Directed by Marwan Rahbani)

(Produced, composed & orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani,

Lyrics by Ghadi Rahbani, taken from the stage performance in the musical play "Don Quixote" by Marwan, Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani)

2011 - Elli ya habibi oul -(Directed by Marwan Rahbani)

(Produced, composed & orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani,

Lyrics by Ghadi Rahbani, taken from the stage performance in the musical play "Don Quixote" by Marwan, Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani)

2011 - Lamouni ktir -(Directed by Marwan Rahbani)

(Produced, composed & orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani,

Lyrics by Ghadi Rahbani, taken from the stage performance in the musical play "Don Quixote" by Marwan, Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani)

2011 - Kassik ya madini -(Directed by Marwan Rahbani)

(Produced, composed & orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani,

lyrics by Ghadi Rahbani, taken from the stage performance in the musical play "Don Quixote" by Marwan, Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani)

2013 - La bidayi wala nihayi - (Directed by Elie Abi Aad)

(Produced & re-orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani, Music by Michel Legrand, Lyrics by Mansour Rahbani, taken from the concert "La bidayi wala nihayi" - performed at the Palais des Congres in November 2011)
2013 - La bidayi wala nihayi - (Directed by Marwan Rahbani)

(Produced & re-orchestrasted by Oussama Rahbani, Music by Michel Legrand, Lyrics by Mansour Rahbani, taken from the live performance in Abu Dhabi festival 2013)

- Albums :
2009 - Sayf 840 (Higlights & The complete version) by Mansour Rahbani
2011 - La bidayi wala nihayi (Oussama Rahbani feat. Hiba Tawaji)
2011 - Don Quixote ( by Oussama Rahbani)

- Musicals :
2008 - Byblos festival :
"The return of the phoenix" by Oussama Rahbani
2008 - Dubai :
"The return of the phoenix" by Oussama Rahbani
2008 - 2009 : Casino du liban :
"The return of the phoenix" by Oussama Rahbani
2009 - Byblos festival :
"Sayf 840" by Mansour Rahbani
2009 -2010 : Casino du liban :
"Sayf 840" by Mansour Rahbani
2010 - Qatar :
"Moulouk Al Tawaef" by Mansour Rahbani
2011 - Byblos festival :
"Don Quixote" by Marwan, Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani

- Concerts :
March 2011 - Abu Dhabi festival - "An evening with Oussama Rahbani", Zaha Hadid Pavillion, Oussama Rahbani feat. Hiba Tawaji & Wadih Abi Raad.

August 2011- Ehdeniyat festival:
"Oussama Rahbani feat. Hiba Tawaji & Wadih Abi Raad"

November 2011 - "La bidayi wala nihayi" - Palais des congres, Dbayeh, Lebanon - Oussama Rahbani featuring Hiba Tawaji & Wadih Abi Raad"

February 2012 - "Synergy" a symphonic poem by Oussama Rahbani. Conducted by Maestro Michel Khairallah, performed by The Lebanese Philharmonic orchestra, Hiba Tawaji : Soprano & the NDU choir

September 2012 - "Lana wa lakom al hayat" Concert, Gebran Tueini Foundation - Palais des Congres Dbayeh -

March 2013 - "Tribute to the Rahbanis" by Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani.

Abu Dhabi Festival -
With NSOU (National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine) conducted by Maestro Vladimir Sirenko, and Ghassan Saliba, Ronza, Fadia El Hajj, Simon Obeid, Nader Khoury, Elie Khayat.

July 2013 - "Rahbani Summer Night" by Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani.

Byblos International Festival -
With NSOU (National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine) conducted by Maestro Vladimir Sirenko, and Ghassan Saliba, Ronza, Simon Obeid, Nader Khoury, Elie Khayat.

- Awards :

2011 - BIAF (Beirut international award festival)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Donia Samir Ghanem Releases New CD on YouTube

Donia Samir Ghanem has been releasing her new album Wahda Tania Khalis, track by track, on YouTube via Roznama Records--a new marketing strategy that has worked well for her.  The accompanying video clips so far have been truly superb as each clip comes with Arabic lyrics so that viewers can sing along.

Here is the video clip for "El Wa2t Byesra2na" الوقت بيسرقنا

الوقت بيسرقنا 

نعيش و الوقت بيسرقنا
وبنمشي و نسرح في طريقنا
و الايام اللي بتجمعنا
ممكن في ثواني تفرّقنا

ساعات الدنيا بتلهينا
عن اغلى و اقرب ناس لينا
و في يوم عمرنا ما بنتمناه
نلاقيهم مَبَقوش حوالينا

بِنْحِسِّش بقيمة الحاجة إلَّا لمّا تروح 
وكان فى صوت بيصرخ فينا و احنا مبنِسْمَعش 
ونندم عللي ضاعوا و راحوا وقلبنا مجروح

يا ريت الوقت يرجع بينا بس ما بيرجَعْش 
زمان كانوا هنا بينا و حوالينا والُلقى مسموح
ودلوقتي و مهما بكينا للُّقى ما بينْفَعْش

قَرِّب من كل اللي حاببهم شيل عنهم خوفهم وتعبهم
يمكن يسيبوك هم الاول او يمكن انت اللي تسيبهم
على قد ماتقدر فرِّحْهم بُصِّلْهم واحفظ ملامحهم
هيجيلك يوم فيه تتمنى لو حتى في نومك تلمحهم

دنيا سمير غانم | قصة شتا - Donia Samir Ghanem | Qesset Sheta:

Donia Samir Ghanem | Wa7da Tania 5ales:

Donia Samir Ghanem (born 1985) is an Egyptian actress and singer. Donia's artistic family includes, her parents, Samir Ghanem (an Egyptian comedian actor) and Dalal Abdul Aziz and her sister Emy Samir Ghanem (a young actress). Donia began her artistic life in 2001 when she was 16 she had her first role in a movie called (leladala wegoh kathera, للعدالة وجوه كثيرة) as nada ، ندى in 2001.

Managed By : Roznama Online
Donia Samir Ghanem Official Fan Page

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shannon's Story: Learning Arabic

Say "Marhaba" to Shannon Elizabeth Munyan and chances are that she will respond to you in fluent Arabic. That may not sound strange, but for an American national, who is lived in the Middle East for just over 3 years, it is a significant achievement which has opened up a world of opportunities, both personally and professionally. Watch this video to find out how Shannon has managed to learn Arabic in such a short time and how the world around her has changed, in her own words.
Here is a video clip of Shannon's story (

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nov 7 'Arabology' Podcast ft Interview with Wissam Yafi

The Nov 7, 2013 episode of Arabology featured a 2-part interview with Wissam Yafi who visited Stanford during the week of November 4th and gave various talks around campus.  Wissam Yafi is the Lebanese American founder of and an expert in Middle East politics, economics and technology policy. His field comparative study, conducted for Harvard University on the MENA region, received recognition at the Kennedy School of Government's Center for International Development. More recently, he has been running an E-learning organization helping governments, non-profits, and businesses around the world reach their audiences.

Here is a video clip from Wissam Yafi's talk at Stanford , followed by the podcast which includes the interview with Wissam Yafi as well as music by Mashrou' Leila, Rachid Taha, Egyptian Project, and Salamat singing the Nubian/Arabic version of 'La Bamba.'

Video clip Wissam Yafi at Stanford discussing Arab women's agency (

November 11, 2013 Arabology Podcast (

Arabology 6.5 Podcast

The Oct 31, 2013 episode of 'Arabology' included a chat with Alon, a Stanford student of Arabic who juxtaposes Arabic and Hebrew + great songs and music by Tania Saleh, Mashrou' Leila, Rachid Taha (singing the Arabic version of 'It's Now or Never'), Akher Zapheer, Akim El Sikameya, Massar Egbari, Mike Massy, Adel Salameh, Omar Offendum, Rima Banna, Abdulrahman Mohammed & Breaking the Boundaries.

Oct 31, 2013 Podcast (
Click on arrow below to listen

Monday, October 28, 2013

Arab Film Festival Screens 2 Films at Stanford

The Arab Film Festival came to Stanford University for the first time on November 2, 2013 and screened two new amazing films that have received much critical acclaim this year: When Monaliza Smiled (Directed by Fadi Haddad) at 6 PM and Mars at Sunrise (Directed by Jessica Habie who was in attendance and participated in a discussion afterwards) at 8 PM. The films screened at Annenberg Auditorium (Cummings Art Building) and were free of charge.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature and the Stanford Language Center, Stanford University.  With special thanks to Professor Alexander Key for making this event possible.

Stanford Lecturer Dr. Ramzi Salti welcomes The Arab Film Festival to Stanford

Pictures from the event:

Dr. Ramzi Salti's opening remarks

Q & A session with Director Jessica Habie

DATE:  Saturday November 2, 2013 at 6 pm and 8 pm

LOCATION: Annenberg Auditorium, Crothers Way, Stanford University


6:00 PM
When Monaliza Smiled, by Fadi Haddad
Trailer at

8:00 PM
Mars at Sunrise, by Jessica Habbie (plus Q&A with Director)
Trailer at


1) WHEN MONALIZA SMILED: Monaliza, a 37-year-old Jordanian woman unable to draw a smile, grew up with her grumpy, older, unmarried, agoraphobic sister, Afaf. After a 10 years wait, Monaliza finally gets a job in an archaic government department where she meets Hamdi, the jolly Egyptian tea guy. On her journey of transformation, Monaliza is confronted by a community of nosy and quirky stereotypes from the heart of the colorful city, Amman. (Free screening on Nov 2 at 6 pm)

2) MARS AT SUNRISE: A painter’s resistance, courage and spirit can never be imprisoned in this highly stylized story of the conflict of two frustrated artists on either side of Israel’s militarized borders. Inspired by the creative journey of renowned Palestinian artist in exile Hani Zurob and on true stories and testimonies from the region, we witness expression, confinement, torture, jealousy, courage and freedom as both artists from each culture strive to paint a picture of life surrounded by conflict. (Free screening on Nov 2 at 8 pm)

Mars at Sunrise Trailer HD from Mars At Sunrise on Vimeo.
The Festival for the Schools is a year-round series of special, FREE events for students and educators. It presents windows on the world that move students beyond the practice of learning about the Arab World. Instead, the films featured connect students to characters and situations that they can relate to and that help them to begin to learn from within the Arab World through the eyes and ears of cutting-edge contemporary filmmakers.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Naima Shalhoub Guests on 'Arabology' (Oct 24, 2013)

Podcast at
The Oct 24, 2013 episode of 'Arabology' includes a live interview with Lebanese American soul singer Naima Grace Shalhoub who discusses her hit 'Herstory of Soul' and sings, live, her amazing version of the Arabic classic 'Adduka Al-Mayyas.' (video at Show also features music by Mashrou' Leila, Rima Khcheich, NO Blues, Dalida (Remix), Yolla Khalife and humorous tracks by Michelle Keserwany and Rania Kurdi.   also includes ticket giveaway to the Aswat tribute concert to Abdul Halim Hafez at San Mateo City College on Dec 7, 2013.

Show also features music by Mashrou' Leila, Rima Khcheich, NO Blues, Dalida (Remix), Yolla Khalife and humorous tracks by Michelle Keserwany and Rania Kurdi.   also includes ticket giveaway to the Aswat tribute concert to Abdul Halim Hafez at San Mateo City College on Dec 7, 2013.

Naima Shalhoub singing 'Qadduka Al-Mayyas' at KZSU 90.1 FM:

Naima Shalhoub Singing "Herstory of Soul" (Official Clip):

DJ Ramzi with Naima Shalhoub at KZSU 90.1 FM, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

In the Studio with Yasmine Hamdan

Watching Yasmine Hamdan in the recording studio is an amazing experience.  Only here can you actually see and hear some of what she experiences while recording.  Paradoxically aloof yet emotionally devastated, Yasmine's technique, gestures, and voice acrobatics are that of true artist.  This may be a long way from her debut with the forever-hip, groundbreaking Lebanese duo 'Soapkills' but it is a phenomenal way to showcase Yamsine Hamdan's solo career as well as her latest album 'Ya Nass.'

Yasmine Hamdan Sings 'Beyrouth'

En studio avec Yasmine Hamdan 1/2 : Beyrouth by telerama

Yasmine Hamdan Sings 'Shouei'

Yasmine Hamdan Sings 'Nedya'

En studio avec Yasmine Hamdan 2/2 : Nediya by telerama

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Focus on Egypt and Turkey [Oct 17 Stanford Event}

THE MEDITERRANEAN STUDIES FORUM at Stanford presents Summer of 2013: A Focus on Egypt and Turkey.

Amr Adly (Stanford University), “Egypt after June 30th: Between Abortive and Potential Fascism”
Ayça Alemdaroğlu (Stanford University), “Youth and Politics in Turkey”
Alexander Key (Stanford), “Should It Matter What We Call It? Islamic, Democratic, and Spring Politics”
Kabir Tambar (Stanford University), “Popular Protest and the Politics of the Present in Turkey”

Monday, October 21, 2013, 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Encina Hall, Bechtel Conference Center . It is free and open to the public.

[Co-sponsored by the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, the CDDRL Program on Arab Reform and Democracy, and the Stanford Humanities Center Workshop on Ethnic Minorities, Religious Communities, Rights and Democracy in the Modern Middle East and Central Asia]

My Interview with Moumen Smihi + Peter Limbrick

With Moumen Smihi (top pic) and Peter Limbrick, Stanford 2013
Click on the arrow below to hear my interview with Moroccan Filmmaker Moumen Smihi and Professor Peter Limbrick, Associate Professor, Film and Digital Media, UCSC.  The interview was conducted on October 17, 2013 at Stanford University.

Moumen Smihi is a critically celebrated Moroccan filmmaker whose career spans more than four decades, during which he has written, produced and directed award-winning and influential feature films, short films and documentaries. He is often credited for creating  "new Arab cinema."   His production company, IMAGO Film International, founded in 1979, has produced some twenty films and edited books on film theory.

Peter Limbrick is Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media. He is the author of Making Settler Cinemas: Film and Colonial Encounters in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand(Palgrave 2010) and of articles in Third Text, Screening the Past, Camera Obscura, and Journal of Visual Culture as well as edited anthologies.

Professor Limbrick is currently heading a 2-day Symposium at UC Santa Cruz (Oct 25-26, 2013) titled
Unfixed Itineraries:: Film and Visual Culture from Arab Worlds.  For the full schedule of events, see their Program page and  Events.  See also my blog entry.

Pictures from Moumin Smihi + Peter Limbrick's visit to Stanford:

Peter Limbrick (far left) and Moumin Smihi (4th from right) with Stanford scholars and students

Moumen Smihi speaking with Stanford faculty and students

Moumin Smihis's Filmography:.
  • The Unlucky Man [Si Moh, pas de chance] (1971)
  • El Chergui, (The Eastwind) (1976)
  • The Tales of the Night اسطورة الليل (1982
  • The Big Mirror (1987)
  • The Lady from Cairo (1991)
  • Defending Egyptian Cinema (1990)
  • With Matisse in Tangiers (1993)
  • Moroccan Chronicles (1999)
  • A Muslim Childhood (2005)
  • Of Virgins and Swallows (2008) العذارى والسنونو
  • Tanjaoui (2013)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Unfixed Itineraries: Film and Visual Culture from Arab Worlds (UC Santa Cruz)

October 25 – 26, 2013, Digital Arts Research Center (DARC), UC Santa Cruz
For more information see:

A two-day symposium of scholars and artists at UCSC's DARC, and an exhibition of visual art at UCSC's Sesnon Gallery

This symposium on Arab film and visual culture emphasizes its plurality, the complex itineraries by which it is produced, and the multiple trajectories through which it can be experienced. Artists and scholars will visit from Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Europe and the US. Work presented will cover a wide area of forms, styles and thematic concerns. Featuring participation and work by:

Livia Alexander • Michael Allan • Ahmed Bouanani • Dore Bowen • Ali Cherri • Kay Dickinson • Tarek El-Ariss • Nouri Gana • John Greyson • Lamia Joreige • Hassan Khan • Marie El Khazen • Sunaina Maira • Nabil Maleh • Susette Min • Stefania Pandolfo • Larissa Sansour • Zineb Sedira • Jeffrey Skoller
With special guest: Moumen Smihi
Symposium screenings, panels and presentations will address topics such as: Movement and Extra-territoriality; Itineraries of Intertextuality; Past, Present and Future Itineraries; Narrative and non-Narrative Itineraries; Archives, Images, Memory.

Unfixed Itineraries Exhibition:
Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery
October 25 – December 10
Work by Hassan Khan, Zineb Sedira, Marie El Khazen
Reception October 25, 5 – 7pm

Related series:
Moumen Smihi, Poet of Tangier (Moroccan Director who guests on Arabology 10/17/13)
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley
October 10 – 27

Peter Limbrick Associate Professor, Film and Digital Media, UCSC (Guests on Arabology 10/17/13)
Omnia El Shakry Associate Professor, History, UC Davis

UCSC Steering Committee:
Shelby Graham, Director/Curator, Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery
Soraya Murray, Assistant Professor, Film and Digital Media
Irene Lusztig, Assistant Professor, Film and Digital Media
Neda Atanasoski, Associate Professor, Feminist Studies
Jennifer Derr, Assistant Professor, History

The organizers wish to thank Porter College, the Arts Dean's Fund for Excellence, the Department of Feminist Studies, the UC Davis Division of Social Science, the UC Davis Institute for Social Sciences, and the other institutions listed below for their generous support of this event.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oct 10 Arabology Podcast Spotlights Arab Film Festival

The 2nd episode of the 6th season of Arabology (aired Oct 10, 2013) includes music by Massar Egbari, Ziad Sahab & Yasmina Fayed, NO Blues, Salam, Mashrou' Leila, Breaking the Boundaries and Abdulrahman Mohammed, Yolla Khalife, Tania Saleh, Adel Salameh, May Nasr, Jadal.
Episode also includes interview with Serge Bakalian, Executive Director of the Arab Film Festival and Director Jessica Habie whose film 'Mars at Sunrise' will screen at the Arab Film Festival in San Francisco on Oct 12, 2013.

Serge Bakalian and Director Jessica Habie at KZSU 90.1 FM

Friday, September 27, 2013

Arabology Seasons 1-2 Uploaded to Soundcloud

The first 2 Seasons of 'Arabology' have been uploaded to Soundcloud for free listening/sampling at

Season 1 originally aired live on KZSU 90.1 FM (Stanford) starting on January 19, 2012 and ending on March 15, 2012.

Season 2  originally aired live on KZSU 90.1 FM (Stanford) starting on March 14, 2012 and ending on September, 2012.

'Arabology' is a weekly radio program hosted by Dr. Ramzi Salti, Lecturer at Stanford University, which aims at showcasing (mostly alternative) Arabic music, along with commentary in English. The show also features interviews (in English) with individuals whose work informs the region.

Click below to listen to any podcast from Season One (January 19-March 15, 2012)

Click below to listen to any Podcast from Season Two (March 14-September 13, 2012):

For more info:
* Arabology on Facebook:
* Arabology on YouTube:
* Arabology on Soundcloud: @arabology
* Arabology Contact:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Miss Nigeria Crowned Winner of Miss World Muslimah Pageant 2013

The Muslim world's own beauty Pageant, Miss World Muslimah 2013, resulted in the crowing of Miss Nigeria Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola this year as 'Miss World Muslimah 2013.' The contest took place in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sept. 18, 2013

Read more:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

World Famous Male Dancer Tito to Perform in CA on Oct 5

Tito, the world's most famous male Bellydance artist, will perform in Los Altos, California on Saturday October 5, 2013. He will be accompanied by French Algerian Star dancer, Diana Tarkhan.

Tickets may be purchased online at

Event Details:
Tito, the world’s most famous male Bellydance Artist, and for the first time in northern CA, French Algerian Star Diana Tarkhan perform in Los Altos


Tito of Egypt, the world’s most famous male Bellydance artist performs in ONE SHOW ONLY in Los Altos on Sat Oct 5 at 7pm. He will teach 3-day workshops in Los Altos & San Jose onOctober 4, 5 & 6. Details on

French Algerian dance star Diana Tarkhan, who will be here for the very first time will join Tito. Diana has been dancing in Cairo for the past 12 years and brings her wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Arabic culture and dance to her classes and shows.

What: Tito & Diana’s Dance Show
When: Saturday October 5, 7 – 11 pm. Doors open at 6:30pm.
Where: Mirage Hall (behind Pineapple Grill), 4926 El Camino Real, Los Altos, CA 94022
Info: or 408-246-1129

Against all odds, one man, Tito of Egypt, defied traditions, demystified taboos and redefined Bellydance entertainment worldwide. He brings dances from the local festivals of Egypt to stages all over the world. With his depictions of authentic Egyptian dance, he's exposing the beautiful art that's been subject to many misunderstandings over the ages.

Tito’s innovation of dancing on the “Tabla” (Arabic drum) has become a worldwide phenomenon. He’s continually reinventing himself as well as the art of Bellydance entertainment. Tito interprets the music through incredible dynamic moves and his shows are an unparalleled experience that always delights, entertains and mesmerizes the audience.

French Algerian Diana Tarkhan is a world-renowned teacher and choreographer of Egyptian Oriental dance. Her dancing career began 20 years ago in Paris where she performed in famous nightclubs. She was then invited to dance internationally in Tunisia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates for prestigious hotels such as Hilton, Sheraton and Hyatt. She has now lived in Egypt for over 12 years. Her experience of the Egyptian culture plus her knowledge of Arabic music and dance forms, make her one of the most effective Oriental dance teachers and performers.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Im Hussein: The Arab World's Version of 'Dame Edna'

Dame Edna (left) and Im Hussein (right)

Australia may have Dame Edna, a character created and performed by Australian dadaist performer and comedian Barry Humphries, but for the past quarter of a century the Arab world has laughed with their own version of the Dame--the hilarious Im Hussein, a character created by Najee Mondalek who performs the part, in drag, to thousands of Arab audiences worldwide.

Najee Mondalek is an Arab-American actor/comedian who is best known as his 'drag' personality, the hilarious Um Hussein. He is currently touring the USA with his latest show titled the “Im Hussein Jubilee Show” which celebrates 25 years of comedy staged by the Ajyal Theatrical Group, the first Arab-American theatrical group in North America.  For more info see

Mondalek founded the AJYAL Theatrical Group in 1988 and continuously performs for Arab-American audiences in The United States, Canada, Australia and the Middle East. The everyday lives of Arab-Americans, including their their mistakes and mishaps, constitute the subject of the Ajyal Theatrical Group's shows.

Ajyal has been the one constant for Mondalek. He writes a new show nearly every year. In September 1994, his theatrical life underwent a transformation. The centerpiece of his creative life, Im Hussein has become his Dame Edna, starring in six hit comedic plays since "Smile You Are in America," a comedy about immigrants trying to adjust to their new country. The main character was an older woman named Im Hussein. Three days before the first performance the father of the actress playing Im Hussein died. Mondalek couldn't find anyone to replace her. Thinking about Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire and Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie, Mondalek took the part himself.

Here is an interview with Najee Mondalek, followed by pictures from the Im Hussein Jubilee Show (in San Francisco) which took place at the Palace of Fine Arts on September 13, 2013.

Interview with Najee Mondalek who plays Im Hussein:

Interview with im hussein play actors and writer in Scottsdale, Arizona. from breekmedia on Vimeo.

Pictures from the  Im Hussein Jubilee Show in San Francisco on September 13, 2013:

With Najee Mondalek (3rd from left), the actor who plays Im Hussein

Friday, September 13, 2013

Im Hussein Comedy Show in San Francisco Tonight [Sep 13, 2013]

Join Im Hussein and the AJYAL Theatrical Group in San Francisco on Friday, September 13 for a fun-filled night of hilarity and laughs! For 25 years, Im Hussein and the gang have presented the Arab experience through comedy all over the United States and Canada. For more information, visit the official Im Hussein Facebook page.

Im Hussein Jubilee Show - $45+
Friday, September 13, 2013
Palace of Fine Arts Theater
Click here or call (415)392-4400 for tickets

The “Im Hussein Jubilee Show” celebrates 25 years of comedy staged by the Ajyal Theatrical Group, featuring the one and only Im Hussein. As the first Arab-American theatrical group in North America—and the first to take the show around the world—they have fulfilled their mission: to provide quality, affordable Arab theater, arts, and cultural experiences for Arab immigrants at home and abroad and to support the development of regional Arab arts and entertainment. The jubilee show showcases the best of the best skits—the zaniest of Im Hussein’s antics and activities—newly written or slightly refreshed but still providing plenty of opportunities for laughter.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Khobez wou Milih: Short Film about Making Food Not War [Subtitled]

'Khobez wou Milih' خبز وملح [Bread and Salt] is a short film of a much bigger story.  Watch the film below.

Seventeen Lebanese housewives, united by the work that they do at Souk El Tayeb and Tawlet, were invited to cook lunch for 600 of the top chefs and foodies in the world during the annual food event of MAD Symposium in Copenhagen.

Khobez wou Milih (Souk El Tayeb @ MAD Symposium 2013) from zeina on Vimeo.

Arabic and English Translations: Amoul
Calligraphy and Subtitles: Tania Salha Oakes
Sound Editor: John Kochanczyk
Filmed and Edited: Zeina Hurst
Producer: Ziad Oakes

Music from Audio Networks
'Passing Time' by Paul Mottram and recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, February 2008
'Nature' by Richard Lacy, David Bird and Richard Kimmings, 2013

Thanks to Ali Kurshat Altinsoy, Peter Kreiner, Mark Emil Tholstrup Hermansen and Gabriel Ulla at Noma and MAD food.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My CD Review: Mashrou' Leila - Raasuk "رقّصوك"

The much anticipated third CD by the Lebanese group Mashrou' Leila is an instant masterpiece that solidifies the band's standing as the Arab world's leading indie/alternative musical artists. This CD combines the distinct sound of the violin with different rhythms and instruments while showcasing the powerful vocals of lead singer Hamed Sinno. The lyrics in Arabic are as poetic as they are contemporary. Tracks melt into each other like inter-connected chapters within a literary epic.

1. Prologue (1:21) Instrumental piece featuring Swiss/French trumpeter Erik Truffaz that eloquently and elegantly sets up our musical journey through the tracks that will follow.
**2. Abdo (3:18) is a popular, folkloric, fictional name in Arabic that is equivalent to "Joe Shmoe" in American English. Here our 'aging counter-hero' is in love with a widow who won't return his affections, leading to Abdo's heartbreak--a story that is accentuated by the song's deliberately melodramatic violin strings and music that stays with the listener long after the song--and Abdo--are gone..
3. Ala Babu (4:37) [At His Door] Sultry tune, a plea by a rejected lover in which he is willing to demean himself for love.
4. Taxi (2:45) Upbeat tune that sounds like Polish or Russian music mixed with various genres and contrasted by powerful lyrics in which the taxi ride is equated with one's doomed life journey..
5. Skandar Maalouf (4:01) Vocals in this song sound like Mika if he were to sing in Arabic. Song showcases Sinno's vocal ability to carry a song in upper registers. Just who is Skander Maalouf? Speculations abound.
**6. Lil Watan (3:36) [For the Homeland] Strongest track on this CD, mid tempo, addressing patriotism, nationalistic slogans and conspiracy theories.
7. Bishuf (4:34) [He Sees] Slow, rhythmic beats that sound like a funeral procession. Lyrics about depression, consciousness, sadness and resignation. Haig Papazian's violin is haunting.
**8. Ma Tetrikni Heik (2:26) [Don't Leave Me Like This] The Lebanese version of Jacques Brel's ‘Ne me quitte pas' with organ music and Sinno's vocals crying out in pain and desperation. Sounds almost like a Church prayer or lamentation.
9. Raasuk (4:02) [They Made You Dance] Title track begins with a grave tone but picks up as song progresses. Like track #6, this song talks about notions of nationalism and choosing to 'dance' like a puppet.
10.Wa Nueid (5:06) [Ad Nauseam] Redundant clapping sounds define this track which emphasizes individual choices and capabilities. Less pessimistic than tracks 6 and 9.
11.Bahr (3:27) [Sea] Epic-like track showcases breathtaking trumpet playing by Erik Truffaz with lyrics that lament the death of a brother who has disappeared into the sea. A plea for the sea to return him.
** My faves (2, 6, 8)

Recent Reviews of this CD/Band:
Review in Arabic from
Review in English from
The Economist:

Sample Tracks from 'Raasuk' CD:


'Lil Watan'

'Ma Tetrikni Heik'

Sample Tracks from Mashrou' Leila's second CD 'El Hal Romancy':

'El Hal Romancy'

'Im El Jacket'

Sample Tracks from Mashrou' Leila's self-titled first CD:



Mashrou' Leila Video Clips:

Mashrou' Leila Live in Concert:

TV reports/interviews about Mashrou' Leila:

TV Report in English:

TV Interview in Arabic:

TV appearance on Bassem Youssef's Elbernameg - البرنامج TV Show:

Exclusive Pictures of Mashrou' Leila Performing in Beirut (2011)

My interview with Mashrou' Leila band member Omaya Malaeb (2011):

My interview with Mashrou' Leila band member Hamed Sinno (2011):

More Info about Mashrou' Leila:
Official Website:
Facebook Page:
YouTube Channel:

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...