Summer 2023 Top Moments: Middle East Edition

While many across the region felt the mercury rise as the effects of global warming made this the hottest summer to date, the pan-Arab region kept its cool making this summer season an exciting one with countless events and concerts and sports news that rocked the world.

Saudi Soccer in a League of its Own

Via 90 MIN

Who is next? Football fans across the world wondered which high-profile player would join the Saudi premier league during summertime transitions. Thanks to the Ronaldo effect, a number of top players made the move to teams in the Kingdom, something that was unthinkable a couple of years ago. The buzz generated about Ittihad poaching Salah from Liverpool with a purported record price tag kept the world media asking and wondering. This led Liverpool coach Jurgen Klop to deny any moves for the Egyptian King. Could this summer mark a new phase in Middle Eastern football history? One thing is for sure, the next football season will attract a considerable number of new audiences across the world.

Summertime Sahel

In Egypt, precisely the North Coast of the Mediterranean also known as Sahel, saw a grand festival in the city of New Al Alamein where Egyptian and Arab Pop musicians performed to huge crowds accompanied by impressive displays of fire-works and pyrotechnics. Musicians included many of the biggest names such as Amr Diab, Ragheb Alama, Ruby and Haifa Wahby and more modern Rap and Trap artists such as Muslim, King & Capo as well as fueling our nostalgia with Mohsen Saleh and Mohamed Monir in addition to many other performers across the Arab world.

The festival was not only about music as the coastal city saw a number of tournaments and sporting events that ranged from Beach Pro Volley Tournament, the Misr Motorsport Championship, as well as a number of water/beach sports like jet skis, rowing, swimming and even skydiving and low-key sports like Paddle Tennis too.

Arab Cinema Doing It Right

While world cinema saw a number of high-profile movies released this year; box office numbers suggest that Arabic-speaking movies held their ground and even overtook US movies at least for a short time in several countries such as Egypt, KSA, and UAE. Regional cinema and filmmaking continue making strides in the quality of the stories told and having the language advantage over foreign films where issues with censorship and screening delays made an impact.

Via Ad Vitam

Many movies from North Africa namely Morrocco and Tunisia represented Arab filmmakers at Cannes with notable mentions from Jordan and Sudan as well. The 3 movies that got prizes were Goodbye Julia Sudan’s first movie to feature in Cannes earning the Freedom prize, while a gritty crime story set in Casablanca called “Les Meutes” or Hounds by Kamal Lazraq snagged the Jury Prize – Un Certain Regard. Two Arab women jointly won the documentary prize “L’Oeil d’Or”, Asmae El Moudir representing Morrocco with “The Mother of All Lies” and Tunisian Kaouther Ben Hania for the movie “Four Daughters” both are social dramas covering themes of family and defying cultural norms in each of their respective countries.

Surprising Summer Hits

Can a movie soundtrack song become the most popular track of the summer thanks to a football team? When the Egyptian team Al Ahly FC won the African Cup in a difficult tournament in Morrocco early this summer the wild team celebration highlighted the song “Satalana”, which was featured in an Egyptian movie, took a life of its own. It went viral and became a victory anthem to not just Egyptian teams but with Moroccan spectators adopting this tune when their teams won and even the U12 Real Madrid team were seen dancing to this catchy tune all the way in Spain.

Spotify also declared that coming in second was the song “Mekhasmak” by Nawal which was actually released a year and a half ago by an unknown singer and for some reason it crept back into the limelight and soared in the charts to the surprise of many, but there’s no denying the sultry ambiance of the single and dance tunes made it a go-to on everyone’s party playlist.

Coming in third was Mahmoud Saad’s “Ekhteyarity” or in other words “my choices (are running my life)” that was released for a movie as well but some have linked it to the singer trying to address the wardrobe choices that people made fun of in a recent concert as well as his personal martial drama. Love him or hate him the song resonated with all of us going for the self-sabotaging choices we make in our lives…    

This summer was an eventful one with many wins for Arab entertainment but something tells me that many more events will unfold before the year is over.

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