Musical MENA: Traditional Music from Palestine to Qatar

Ever wondered what traditional Lebanese, Syrian or Yemeni music sounded like? Find out below! Click here for Part One (From Mauritania to Egypt)



The great Sabah.


Rural ‘Zajal’ songs are still a widely practiced tradition – Zajals are improvised poetry accompanied by a specific musical ensemble inclusing the Oud, Mijwiz, Tablah, Arghul, Raban and reed pipes.


Syria is the birth place of Christian hymnody and the ‘Syrian chant’ is still practiced in certain churches.


Iraqi Maqam is a musical improvisation based on rules and is still prevalent in today’s music scene.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi music is a presently a mix of Western and Arab influences. This particular musical ensemble belongs to a Saudi tribe.


The poetic music of Sanaa is a tradition under the threat of extinction.


Music from the region is heavily inspired by the coast – Omani sailors often brought musical traditions back from their travels to Africa which then melted into Oman’s musical traditions.

Bahrain & Kuwait

The two nations are known for ‘Sawt’ music, which is a “bluesy genre influenced by African, Indian and Persian music”.


The music of Qatar is based on sea folk poetry.


Similar to Bahraini and Kuwaiti music, music from the UAE has a clear African sound – expected considering their coastal location and seafaring history.

Who are your favourites? Are there any other musical traditions across the Middle East that you know of? Leave your comments below!


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