Over the last fifty years the Arab world has witnessed two seemingly contradictory trends: governments have failed to unite the region politically but at the same time a vibrant popular culture has blossomed, strengthening the sense of a shared Arab identity. Egyptian soap operas, Arab pop stars, al-Jazeera television, Islamic televangelists, and a raging debate over the “war on terror” and the future of the Arabs are just some of the phenomena that comprise the immensely rich and diverse world of the Arab mass media.
Looking at such diverse cultural forms as commercial cinema, pop music, television, sport, theatre and popular religion, journalist Andrew Hammond portrays the lively popular culture of the region, offering a refreshing antidote to stereotypical views about the Middle East. Popular Culture in the Arab World covers the entire spectrum of pop culture in the Arab world today, from reality TV shows to the power of modern advertising, as well as scandals involving belly-dancing stars like Fifi Abdo. From Lebanese pop sensation Nancy Ajram to Shaaban Abdel-Rahim, an illiterate ironer in Cairo who rose to stardom singing of his support for Palestinians against Israel, this unique book highlights the unlikely heroes of Arab popular culture.
Of interest to all those who wish to understand how popular culture works hand-in-hand with the politics of the Middle East, this book is a thoroughly researched but fun tour of the history, trends, and controversies surrounding popular culture in the Arab world.