When most people in the ‘West’ think of Arabic music, we tend to imagine the deep twanging sounds of the oud and the cliché oriental music of Hollywood films romanticising the ‘East’. Most people outside the Middle East and North Africa have no idea how varied Arabic music really is. It ranges from the old classics like Fairuz to the upbeat dance music out of the clubs of Beirut, and the more relaxed, hipster sounds of up-and-coming young artists bringing reggae, funk, blues and R&B vibes into the mix.
If you’re interested in exploring Arabic music, these 7 Spotify playlists will get you well on your way, with songs for every occasion – from chilled out coffee hour tunes and upbeat workout songs to the perfect dinner and dance party soundtracks.
Top tip – if you’re trying to learn Arabic, listening to music is a brilliant (and fun!) – way to immerse yourself in the language!
This playlist contains a mix of the old classics like Fairuz and Umm Kalthoum, combined with more modern, acoustic ballads from the likes of young Syrian superstar Faia Younan. Close your eyes and imagine you’re sipping Arabic coffee on the streets of Ashrafiyeh in Beirut…
The vibe: Arabic Music 101
Think modern acoustic and bluesy beats. This edgy playlist incorporates the hipster sounds of Beirut and Amman with North African reggae and blues to create the ultimate chilled out vibe.
The vibe: Hipster coffee hour
The perfect playlist to psyche you up for a girls night out. This compilation of fierce Arab women screams ‘girl power’ and is basically the Middle East equivalent of the Spice Girls and Beyoncé. It mixes belly dance beats with club vibes, bringing ALL the attitude. Try listening to this without dancing – I dare you.
The vibe: Girls night
Perhaps this strikes you as a surprising combination, but this playlist truly shows the diversity of cultural influences inspiring Arab artists today. It blends traditional reggae and ska sounds with Latino reggaetón, African dance beats and traditional Arabic instruments and riffs.
The vibe: House party
This playlist is the ultimate party soundtrack, bringing you dance-floor vibes from the region’s hottest artists and DJs. It incorporates party beats from Morocco to Kuwait to get you in the mood for every phase of your big night out…
The vibe: In the club
Upbeat Arabic tunes, old and new, to get you feeling on top of your game. Perfect for a Friday afternoon in the office (or Thursday if you’re in the Gulf…) when you need that extra boost to get you through to the weekend.
The vibe: Hump Day 🐪
As you’d expect, this playlist features all of the catchiest tunes from the region to see you through your workout, from Amr Diab’s dance classics to contemporary club hits from Myriam Fares and Nancy Ajram (ALL the sass!).
The vibe: Pounding pavements / pumping iron
We hope you’ve enjoyed the list – let us know which playlist is your favourite in the comments below – and if you have any other music suggestions, we’d love to hear them!
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