Having only studied Arabic for three years, I’m by no means an expert on the language, history, and culture. But Arabic music – that’s a different story. I have always been a music lover, and learning Arabic gave me a fantastic new opportunity to discover a whole new range of music. In doing so, I have found a love for romantic Arabic music. From upbeat pop to slower ballads, the music industry in the Middle East is flourishing with music of love, romance and passion. The music is not definable by a single feature, so I’ve decided to present a run-down of some of my favourite Arabic singers, songs and albums which all centre around love.
1. Albi Ya Albi - Nancy Ajram
I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite song from Ajram’s prolific career – from older songs including Enta Eih and Hassa Beek to her newest album Nancy 10, the Lebanese singer sings of love in all its forms. She produced Albi Ya Albi in 2020, and even performed it to be streamed live during the Covid-19 pandemic. I love the rhythms of the piece, and its exploration of the all-encompassing nature of love is sweet and passionate at the same time. Ajram sings,
لبي يا قلبي اتركني يا قلبي
مش وقتها هلق ارجع حب
لا هلق ما فيي ومنا بإيديي
ما بعرف شو صارله هالقلب
My heart oh my heart leave me oh my heart
It's not the right time to fall in love again
I can't now and I can't do anything about it
I don't know what happened to my heart
2. Abel B’Waet Zeina – Nabil Khoury
Released in 2020, this song gently encompasses what many of us want from love: quiet devotion, sensitivity and someone who has eyes for us alone.
من كيف بتكي حسَّيتِك
قريبي عقلبي و حبَّيتِك
و عم بتمنّى كون خلَّيتِك
!بغنيّي تحبّيني بل غلط
From the way you speak, I felt you
close to my heart, and I loved you
And I hope that with my song, I can make you love me by mistake
The romantic idea of falling in love ‘by mistake’ is reflected in the calmness of the music, the compassion with which Khoury delivers the lyrics and the constant repetition of the name of his lover, Zeina. A true love letter delivered in musical form.
3. EP – Elyanna
Taking the Arab world by storm, the young Palestinian-Chilean singer released a wide-ranging EP in 2020. She demonstrates her versatile talent through sad ballads such as Shee, and upbeat pop hits including Ana Lahale. Let’s hope this is not the last we’ll see of her.
4. Beehom Kolohom – Ramy Gamal
The idea of eternal love is central to Gamal’s song:
وَعّد منى تعيش معايا سنين
Promise me to live with me for years
The pop ballad builds at the chorus, clearly expressing passion and the desire to love one person ‘for years,’ forever. Easy and beautiful listening.
You might be familiar with Inez’s My Love, but she has much more to offer. The Moroccan-Dutch singer sings in three languages – Arabic, Dutch and French, building a bridge between different cultures. I highly recommend Menak wla Menni and Ya Benti.