Pop culture highlights from around the Arab world

Mahmoud Kaabour

‘Champ Of The Camp’ and ‘Grandma, A Thousand Times’

The Lebanese filmmaker has made two of his documentaries available to watch online (for free). “It’s great how my fellow filmmakers and producers are using their films these days, so it’s my turn,” Kaabour wrote on Facebook. “Here are my last two, which are part of my spirit and flesh.”

2010’s Grandma, a Thousand Times is an award-winning 50-minute documentary that Kaabour made about his 85-year-old grandmother (or ‘Teta’ as he calls her), Fatima. It’s a sweet and moving film – but never tacky – in which Fatima, usually from her home or balcony, looks back on her busy life, especially her children, grandchildren and music – her late husband, whose name the filmmaker shares (and with whom he bears a striking resemblance), was a violinist.

The film not only won $ 100,000 at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, but was also a ‘Critic’s Pick’ in the New York Times, where the reviewer wrote that Kaabour has “a resilient, no-nonsense personality who keeps his family together for a flash. freezes … Teta commands the respect of her part of old Beirut. ”

Released in 2013, “Champ Of The Camp” was the first feature film to be shot in labor camps in the UAE. It is the story of a Bollywood singing competition, in which workers competed to showcase their vocal skills and knowledge of Bollywood movies. Kaabour described it to Screen Daily as “both a tribute to Bollywood and the lives of people who built (the UAE).”

Both films are now available for showing on Vimeo.

Lea Makhoul

I’ll Be Fine

According to Universal MENA, the French-Lebanese singer said “this was going to be her year, and she always delivers.” Her latest single is a happy pop song in which Makhoul encourages her audience to “be strong enough to walk away from an unhealthy relationship and still be good – a breakup should be seen as a breakthrough.” Makhoul is said to have choreographed the video’s dance routine himself with the intention of emphasizing the track’s ‘raw element’. “It’s feminist as well as feminine,” the press release says. “The artist enables everyone to follow the independent path.”



The UAE foursome, named after frontman Josh Monteath, released their first official single from their upcoming album “Moonlight”, which will be released in May, late last month. On their Facebook page, the band (Monteath, drummer Andrei Ramos, bassist Alex Tombrink and guitarist Jerome Deligero) cites Kings of Leon and John Mayer as one of their main influences and ‘Juliet’ lends credence to that claim (particularly the later, poppier Kings of Leon singles) with its melodic pop-rock vibe.

Alko B

‘To The Long Lost’

The Lebanese singer-songwriter (real name Salim Naffah) – now based in New York – just released this video for this soft, reverberation-infused instrumental from his 2019 album “Dreaming Is Not For Two”. The black-and-white film shows dancer Lynne Sakr in a sun-drenched forest and fits perfectly with the dreamy, slightly different music.

Hasan Hujairi


The Bahraini sound artist, writer and composer released this atmospheric and disturbing instrumental track in late March, describing it as “music for another day at home”. Like much of Hujairi’s work, it is not quite a track but more of a soundscape, referring to the alternating waves of panic and calm acceptance that many of us are no doubt experiencing right now.

Funny death

‘fill the black hole in my heart’

Vancouver-based Lebanese synth-pop artist (real name Jad Mroue) released a video last month for this track from his 2018 album ‘Half Present’. The clip resembles an arthouse short, with a central character constantly looking at the camera. waves, but somehow doesn’t attract attention. It’s a funny but sad motif that perfectly captures the song’s longing quality.

Mark Shakedown


The new “future house” release from Lebanese DJ producer Mark Shakedown offers “a smooth, versatile beat to calm or cheer you up, depending on your mood,” according to the press release. The 32-year-old has been a fixture in the region’s mainstream electronic music scene for years, and his experience can be seen on this catchy, polished pop track.

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