Category Archives: Arab culture

Rai music



Raï is a music style that originated in Oran,Algeria in the 1930’s,from Bedouin shepherds. It appealed to young people who sought to modernize the traditional Islamic values and attitudes. Regional, secular, and religious drum patterns, melodies, and instruments were blended with Western electric instrumentation.

Singers of raï are called cheb (shabab, young) as opposed to sheikh (shaykh, old), the name given to Chaabi singers.

In the 1980s, raï began its period of peak popularity. Previously, the Algerian government had opposed raï because of its sexually and culturally risque topics, such as alcohol and consumerism, two subjects that were taboo to the traditional Islamic culture.

The government eventually attempted to ban raï, banning the importation of blank cassettes and confiscating the passports of raï musicians. This was done to prevent raï from not only spreading throughout the country, but to prevent it from spreading internationally and from coming in or out of Algeria. Though this limited the professional sales of raï, the music increased in popularity through the illicit sale and exchange of tapes.In the 1990’s, restrictions were placed on raï, and those who did not submit to censorship faced consequences such as exile.

The first musician with international success in the ’80’s was Cheb Khaled followed by Cheb Mami.

Later in 1990’s,  funk, hip hop, and other influences were added to raï, especially by performers like Faudel and Rachid Taha, the latter of whom took raï music and fused it with rock. Taha does not call his creation raï music, but rather describes it as a combination of folk raï and punk.


Henna/mehendi tattoos


Henna is a flowering plant used since antiquity to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather and wool. The name is also used for dye preparations derived from the plant, and for the art of temporary tattooing based on those dyes.

Henna powder

For skin dyeing, a paste of ground henna (either prepared from a dried powder or from fresh ground leaves) is placed in contact with the skin from a few hours to overnight. Henna stains can last a few days to a month depending on the quality of the paste, individual skin type, and how long the paste is allowed to stay on the skin.

Henna kit

The Night of the Henna was celebrated by most groups in the areas where henna grew naturally: Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians, among others, all celebrated marriages by adorning the bride, and often the groom, with henna. It was also used for celebrations as birthdays, circumcision or religious one such as: Eid, Diwali or others. When there was joy, there was henna.

Henna was regarded as having “Barakah”  blessings, and was applied for luck as well as joy and beauty. Brides typically had the most henna, and the most complex patterns, to support their greatest joy, and wishes for luck. The fashion of  “Bridal Mehendi-Henna tattooing”  in Pakistan, Northern Libya and in North Indian Diasporas is currently growing in complexity and elaboration, with new innovations in glitter, gilding, and fine-line work.

Bridal henna designs

Henna patterns

Palestinian culture: The THOB


Nowadays what Palestinian women wear is determined by their religious believes, though it wasn’t always like this.Women in Palestine used to wear a Thob; a full length flare dress, that is loosely-fitted to allow a lot of movement.

Until the 1940s, traditional Palestinian costumes reflected a woman’s economic status, whether married or single, and the town or district of origin as well. A knowledgeable observer could collect such information from the fabric, colors, cut, and embroidery motives in a given woman’s apparel.

Approximately 100 years ago, Palestinian women from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jaffa, El Khalil (Hebron), Ramallah, Majdal and Gaza as well as the nomadic Bedouin of the southern desert region developed their own embroidery designs borrowing from architectural motifs, local plants, and spiritual symbols. The style of embroidered panels, types of fabrics, set them apart from one another to such a degree that their region of origin could be identified from a distance.

Thob from Bethlehem

Thob from Hebron

Thob from Ramallah

Embroidery was used on everyday dresses as well as wedding and special occasions dresses. Women were as distinctive working in the fields as they were visiting their husband’s family. These dresses were part of their identity. Work done by their own hands demonstrated their skill and imagination

Headdresses indicated whether women were married or unmarried. An unmarried woman would have very few coins, if any, on her headdress, whereas a married woman would display and carry her wealth on her head.

War in the Middle East has destroyed the unity of many cultures, especially the Palestinians. Palestinian women refugees have formed embroidery cooperatives in other countries as a mean of supporting themselves and their families. Using traditional patterns, these modern embroiderers produce contemporary items carrying ancient symbols of identity and pride to Palestinians expats.

Moroccan caftan


The caftan, or kaftan, is the traditional dress of Moroccan women. In the era of the Sultans, the caftan was worn by both men and women.When the caftan came to Morocco from Turkey, it became primarily an article of women’s clothing.

                                                      Old Turkish Caftan

Caftan is  loose-fitting, but is usually more elaborate than other Moroccan traditional garments like the jalabia, because it is worn more often for special occasions.It is a long dress in the style of a robe. Caftans are made of either cotton or silk. They are ankle-length and can be fastened up the front with buttons. A sash around the waist completes the outfit. Some caftans are designed with elaborate colors and patterns, and other styles are much simpler.

The traditional wedding dress in Morocco is caftan,although some women prefer Western wedding dresses to be more modern.Caftans designed for weddings can be very elaborate, with brightly embroidered floral patterns in a variety of colors, including green, red, dark brown and white. The sleeves are full and very wide.

Introducere in misterioasa lume araba



        Dintotdeauna oamenii au prezentat un interes deosebit fata de tot ceea ce este invaluit in mister. Fie ca este vorba de traditii, obiceiuri, limba sau cultura in sine lumea araba a reprezentat o sursa de inspiratie pentru maestrii condeielor. Insa totodata oamenilor le este frica de ceea ce nu le este cunoscut, iar de aici pana la ura fata de aceste popoare arabe este doar un pas.

        A fi diferit inseamna ca devii periculos in opinia vesticilor, dar cine defineste normalul si in functie de ce? De lumea in care traieste? Ei bine in acest caz si alte popoare ne pot considera pe noi mandrii vestici diferiti si deci anormali. De fapt problema oamenilor este ca nu vor sa admita ca fiecare are libertatea de a fi altfel. Am fost crescuti intr-o lume in care se incearca de prea multa vreme comasarea popoarelor, traditiilor si identitatii nationale si astfel am ajuns sa fim niste jucarii fara coloana vertebrala. In schimb daca ne uitam la popoarele arabe  acestea sunt mandre de provenienta lor si isi dau tot interesul pentru conservarea traditiilor si culturii.

       Asadar va propun ca in incercarea de a scapa de aceasta frica neintemeiata fata de necunoscut sa facem impreuna o incursiune in aceasta lume, aruncand o privire asupra vastei lor culturi.

       Arabii sunt binecunoscuti pentru generozitatea si ospitalitatea lor mostenite din cele mai vechi timpuri de la beduinii care pregateau adevarate ospaturi in cinstea celor care calcau taramurile lor.De atunci si pana in zilele noastre atunci cand iti este acordata increderea de a intra in casa unor arabi vei simti caldura si bucuria de a te avea ca oaspete.

        Familia este cheia societatii arabe, acestia respectandu-si si acordand o mare importanta acestui aspect.Sunt preferate familiile mari cu multi copii in detrimentul celor cu 1-2 copii. Adeseori poti gasi adevarate clanuri formate de generatii care odata reunite la ocazii speciale incing adevarate petreceri pline de voie buna si amuzament. Deasemenea spiritul umanitar este bine dezvoltat, fie ca este vorba de cineva din familie sau de un cunoscut nu vor ezita sa-l ajute pe cel aflat la nevoie.

        Nuntile sunt un adevarat prilej de bucurie si voie buna, cele traditionale desfasurandu-se timp de 3 zile si avand petreceri separate pentru femei si barbati, totodata reunind familiile mirilor, prietenii, cunoscutii, vecinii si oricine doreste sa participe la fericitul eveniment si sa le ureze celor doi sa aiba parte de tot ce-i mai bun in casnicie.

        Inca din cele mai vechi timpuri arabii au fost cunoscuti pentru calitatile lor de negustori, care s-au pastrat pana azi.De la copilul care stie sa vorbeasca pana la batrani nu exista arab care sa nu cunoasca tainele comertului si mai ales cele ale negocierii si numai un strain caruia ii este rusine sa negocieze va plati atat cat i-a fost cerut initial de negustor.

     In speranta ca v-am deschis apetitul de cunoastere asupra acestei culturi inchei pledoaria mea aici  pentru moment, dar voi reveni cu alte aspecte, traditii si obiceiuri ce s-au pastrat de secole printre arabi.