Sunday April 14th, 2024
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5 Radio Stations Amplifying MENA's Music Scene

In celebration of World Radio Day, we have curated a list of global online radio stations handing the mic to regional sounds.

Riham Issa

5 Radio Stations Amplifying MENA's Music Scene

Over the past few years, we have witnessed the reemergence of radio stations in the form of online music broadcasts, slowly gaining traction, and cultivating communities of listeners along the way. Though radio stations have been exposing listeners to new music for decades, it was only during the pandemic that they experienced some kind of metamorphosis, transforming into online music broadcasts that are more sustainable in the digital age.

Within this flourishing live-streaming industry, there are now multiple global and regional online music radio stations offering their listeners an opportunity to unwind, tune in and explore the wide breadth of alternative music and eclectic mixes from Arab artists – free of any form of distraction from mainstream media.

In celebration of World Radio Day, we have curated a list of some of the most prominent radio stations which have been playing a pivotal role in spotlighting the diverse sounds of the MENA region and beyond.

MDLBEAST Radio (Saudi Arabia)

From an online creative community and record label to talent development platforms and music festivals in Saudi Arabia, reshaping the Kingdom’s nightlife scene, MDLBEAST serves as an all-inclusive content machine within the region’s music industry. Their radio station, MDLBEAST Radio, showcases a diverse range of music genres, such as house, techno and hip-hop, curated by renowned local and international artists. With a 24/7 stream of carefully selected tracks, live DJ sets, and exclusive mixes, MDLBEAST’s radio station aims to offer music enthusiasts worldwide a dynamic and immersive sonic experience.

Radio Al Hara (Palestine) 

Since its inception on March 20th, 2024, Radio Al Hara has become one of the most followed radio stations across the globe for its relentless daily schedule of emerging Arab artists and striking visual identity. The online radio station is founded by a team embedded in various sub-cultural scenes across the region, namely Bethlem-based designers and siblings, Elias and Youssef Anastas, Ramallah-based visual artist, Yazan Khalil, as well as Amman-based graphic designer and DJ, Saeed Abu-Jaber, and designer, Mothanna Hussein.

Radio Al Hara has established a border-binding multifaceted cultural space, which emerged out of isolation and boredom, and a time when the future of the world, as we know it, remains unknown. Aside from regularly hosting artists with selections varying from Egyptian post-shaabi music to Brazilian bossa jazz, Radio Al Hara also offers programmes outside music. Earlier in December of last year, in light of the ongoing bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza, the radio station launched a ‘Learning Palestine’ programme until liberation. Put together by the Learning Palestine Group, the program featured two 12-hour sessions made up of music, talks, discussions and presentations by various singers, intellectuals, poets, and academics from across the globe, aiming to teach people about the history of Palestine and help them understand the reality of its ongoing struggle for liberation.

NTS Radio (UK) 

London-based online radio station and media platform NTS Radio allows its listeners to explore unbordered mixes that defy societal expectations, with a diverse selection of sounds curated by its residents. Founded by Femi Adeyemi and Clair Urbahn in 2011, NTS radio broadcasts music from over 50 cities around the globe with 800 residents hosts to their three million monthly listeners, covering everything from dungeon synth to Ethiopian pop.

The UK’s digital radio station plays a pivotal role in spotlighting MENA underground music globally by handing over the mic to three regional residents every month. These shows span various genres from trap and classical, to leftfield techno, and everything in between. Earlier last year, NTS hosted three Egyptian artists: Postdrone, Nihal El Aasar, and ZULI. On October 28th, 2023, Egyptian artist Postdrone hosted a broadcast on NTS Radio titled ‘Falasteen’, featuring an hour of recordings and music from Palestine, along with multiple sounds from the Arab region, from the 1920s to 2023. The set features Sheikh Imam’s ‘Felesteen Dawla’ and Fairouz’s ‘Ya Tair’.

AZEEMA (UK) 

UK-based independent online media publication, AZEEMA, is known for highlighting and celebrating the diverse sounds of female and non-binary artists from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and beyond through their AZEEMA FM radio station. Along with curating sounds and music programming for the Southbank Centre, Now Gallery and Tate Modern, AZEEMA also hosts beginner DJ workshops, aiming to nurture rising regional talents in the music scene.

In 2020, AZEEMA FM started their monthly DJ guest mixes with an aim to spotlight and celebrate the diverse sounds of the SWANA region.

Radio Flouka (France) 

Founded by Tunisian DJ and Producer Haroun Ben Hmida, this Paris-based independent online radio station has been amplifying Arab underground sounds and music culture across Europe since 2018. True to their motto, ‘From Mashriq to Maghreb’, the online radio station’s main goal is to spotlight the diverse musical talents across the region, through their mix collections.

To curate their online broadcasts, Radio Flouka relies on the goodwill of volunteers and a steady stream of Middle Eastern talents to redefine how the world sees contemporary music from the region.



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