Various Artists

Music from the Arabian Gulf

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Largely licensed from a small label in Dubai, Music from the Arabian Gulf collects music from the southern coast of the gulf, from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE (Iraq and Iran are often not included among the Persian Gulf states). However, the artists heard on this album are nearly to the last from the UAE. Many have likely moved there over the years to the big cities, as indeed most of the population has. Nonetheless, the music is often representative of their original homes, or at least popular there. There is a bit of a dichotomy here, with some of the pieces being astoundingly popular while holding on tightly to the old forms of singing with little accompaniment, and other pieces being heavily updated with string sections, thicker beats, and synthesizers. These rai-like pieces also hold popularity well, particularly among the urban dwellers. All of the pieces are danceable at some level, though, and wholly listenable as well. While most Arabic albums sold in the West are comprised of artists heard by scouts seeking music that will be more amenable to Western ears (more Western influences, romanticizing of the classic Bedouin cultures, etc.), this one -- being put together originally in Dubai -- is more representative of the sound on the streets. It's a little more contemporary, a little bit edgier. This is indeed what people are listening to in the Arabian Gulf, and it's a shame that it's not what listeners hear more of in the rest of the world.

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