Oh joy! Oh goody, goody sonic gumdrops! ‘Tis music to my ears to hear The National feature Next Music Station, a new series on Al Jazeera that explores the musical soul across the spectrum of the Arab world.

NMS spans 11 episodes, nine countries and 80 musicians to reflect the diversity of Arab music, reaching around corners and behind closed doors to brush with bands and artists who might otherwise have remained undiscovered.

Eleven weekly one-hour shows beam the lesser-known sounds of Sudan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen to a TV set near you, to mingle with more familiar sonic flavours of Syria, Egypt, Morocco and Lebanon.

Join me in joyous hairbrush karaoke and jump up and down on your beds, dear readers: this could get loud…

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“‘Let me grow as an artist or I will become President of Pakistan and rule this country.” – Veena Malik is loud and clear and she sure doesn’t mince her words.

Love her, or hate her and you’d have teeming support from thousands of others on either side of the fence. The fiesta Ms. Malik’s appearance on Indian reality TV Show Bigg Boss has ignited an avalanche of public debate among Pakistani society.

Some, like TV anchorman anchor Kamran Shahid and Mufti Abdul Qavi deem the Pakistani siren the shame of their nation, yet Veena’s defiance and self-defence as a modern, worldly woman have attracted admiration and adoration… after all, let’s face it, she’s not exactly hard on the eye.

V for Vendetta

There’s an interesting analysis of Veena’s turbulent trajectory in the Express Tribune. The big bang came in response to her attitude, attire and interaction with other contestants on Bigg Boss. It sent ripples across her homeland, attracting mud slinging from the moral police and much debate splashed across news headlines.

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Tattoos, handcuffs and Starbucks coffee – is this the way to self-expression? Not likely. But many Arab women can probably relate to the complex issues posed by photographer Abdulaziz Al Qahtani’s latest exhibition, “An Intimate Landscape” which depicts Arab women and the quest for identity in today’s world. This Saudi Arabian artist uses bold images that challenge the observer to examine traditional roles, taboos and his or her place in Western society.

To Want or Not To Want

Pop culture affects all those who live within it and, being based in London, Al Qahtani is at the heart of it. His insightful observations come through in several pieces from the expo, with images of Hijab wearing women in mini-skirts, getting tattooed and drinking alcohol.

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Victoria and Abdul: An Unlikely Love Story

25 June 2011

How did a 24-year old Muslim from Agra, India go from waiting tables to playing a central role in the British Empire? The power of love knows no limits. Or so reports The National in a fascinating article on Queen Victoria of England and her Indian Muslim lover.
When Abdul Karim was brought from India to [...]

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The Price We Pay For Love – Marriage in Kuwait

18 May 2011

Nestled among glittering skyscrapers, Kuwaiti citizens enjoy the good fortune of living a life of luxury- shopping at designer malls, dining at the finest restaurants, travelling the world on a whim. But living the first class lifestyle has some societal side effects- the price tag that is placed on marriage. These days, the parents of [...]

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Love in a Headscarf: Chick-lit for Muslim women?

21 April 2011

British Muslim author and blogger Shelina Zahra Janmohamed has a confession to make. Or so she’s been telling The Guardian….
She, like me and countless other young Muslim women  love girly books. Call it what you will, chick lit, a la Bridget Jones and all manner of other everyday female heroines floats our boats and offers [...]

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Are You Being Surfed? — Kuwaiti Restaurant Sues Unsatisfied Blogger

24 March 2011

I often ask myself if there is anything, dear cyber-comrades, that cannot be done on the Internet these days.
We can buy, sell, marry, divorce, work, love and even… sue. Case in point: the Kuwait-based Lebanese blogger being sued for $18,000 by the owner of the Benihana Japanese-style restaurant in Kuwait for posting a negative review [...]

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Truth in Jest: The Qatari Man who Accidentally Divorced via Skype

10 March 2011

There are few things that cannot be accomplished by Internet these days. In an every more virtual reality, we can order dinner, buy a house, even meet the man/woman of our dreams at the click of a mouse.

The only condition, or so it would seem – is that there is no way back when “send” [...]

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The West Los Angeles Cousins Club: A Meeting Place for Muslim and Jewish Friends

28 February 2011

With so much unrest and strife in the world, not least in the Middle East, it’s good to know that we can and still want to talk to each other. Having spent a little time at the Neve-Shalom Wahat-al-Salam Peace Village, I’ve seen the power of communication and discovered the common cultural crossovers that so [...]

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Muslims in Love, a Film that Fuses Faith and Feelings

20 February 2011

How do you find a mate when you don’t date? This intriguing question opens Muslims in Love, a short film by students at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, which tackles how devout faith and finding true love fit together for today’s young American Muslims. In director Zerina Usmen’s own words, this 26 minute 5-character film [...]

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