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Nasheeds and pining ballads: What songs are Arabs listening to during coronavirus lockdown? Open in fullscreen

Kamal Afzali

Nasheeds and pining ballads: What songs are Arabs listening to during coronavirus lockdown?

Music sharing indoors has risen by 29% in the region [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 April, 2020

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While some people seem to long for human contact, there are many others who pine for the divine.
Life will never be the same after the coronavirus pandemic, we are told.

Nationwide curfews across the Middle East have ended music blaring out of speakers in markets and other public places, something that once brought the people together just a few months ago.

Still, music sharing indoors has risen by 29 percent in the region since the coronavirus epidemic began, according to data on user habits shared by Anghami, the Arab world’s equivalent to Spotify.

A large number of the songs played by Arab music lovers hint that many people are missing someone dear in their lives since the lockdowns began.

Song titles are literal variations of the phrase "I miss you", including "Bitwahishni" by Egyptian star Sherine Abdel Wahab and "Ishta'tilak" by Ibrahim Al-Hakami, the one-time winner of Arab Pop Idol.

Those with budding affections for new partners have found comfort in classic love songs, such as those by Lebanese icon Fairouz, according to the data.

Song choices also reflect hopes that testing relationships will last beyond the lockdowns. "Marrat Sana" or "A Year Went By" by Saudi veteran Majed Al-Hamid and Muhammed Abdu has received a flood of requests.

While many long for human contact, many others are pining for the divine.

Search queries for religious content, such as recitals of prayers, has seen a huge rise.

Podcast playback has dipped, bar a i-produced coronavirus myth-buster targeting those seeking an antidote to widespread falsehoods about the coronavirus, its effects and so-called "home remedies".          

With artist and labels in the Middle East impacted by music piracy, Anghami describes itself as the region's first legal streaming platform, with licensed content from both Arabic and international labels, according to its website.

Founded in 2012 by Eddy Maroun and Eliie Habib, the company caters for MENA audiences as well as the Arab diaspora, boasting a catalogue of over 30 million songs and available to over 70 million users.


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