Maha ElNabawi

writer, music journalist, Mada Masr co-founder

Location icon Egypt

A writer and media entrepreneur from Cairo. Mostly, I write about music from Egypt and the MENA region. Sometimes, I write invisible fiction. Co-Author of the collective book, "Ten Cities" a sociological and cultural study through the lens of dance music and club culture.

Portfolio
The National
05/26/2018
On the vanguard: The life and work of Halim El Dabh

E arlier this month, venerable Egyptian electronic-music pioneer, ethnomusicologist and educator Halim El Dabh died at the age of 96 in Kent, Ohio, where he lived. Leaving behind a huge body of work, including more than 300 operas, symphonies, ballets, chamber-music pieces, and electronic-music works, with several more unpublished at the time of his death, El Dabh wielded an influence that extends far beyond music .

Mada Masr
Navigating the surreal through sound

In searching for coping mechanisms that didn't require a chemical means of transportation, 2017 became the year I rediscovered the art of listening. Joy Division's Ian Curtis once sang, "The past is now part of my future, the present is well out of hand."

Mada Masr
02/15/2016
Beyoncé, Coldplay, and why we can't let exotica become banal

Growing up in America in the 1980s through the noughties made most of my generation pretty hard to offend. Not because America itself is offensive, though some might argue that point. Nor because America is so idealistic about free expression that you respect individuality too much to be offended.

Mada Masr
09/27/2015
The strange Middle East focus of Banksy's Dismaland

"The way Banksy chose my work was strange, and the place is strange, and so I feel my participation in the exhibition is strange," explains Syrian artist Tammam Azzam about his inclusion in one of the biggest art spectacles of the summer: Dismaland.

Music Writing

The National
02/09/2016
Soundtrack Film Review: "As I Open My Eyes" | The National

The Arab world has a long history with musical films. Dating back to the inception of the Arab film industry in Cairo in the early 20th century, productions such as Mohammed Abdel Wahab's El Warda El Baida, or Oum Kalthoum's Fatma, and of course Farid El Atrash's many masterpieces come to mind when thinking of memorable movie music.

the Guardian
05/01/2014
Five must-listen new tracks from around the world

Mada Masr: Islam Chipsy is a 28-year-old avant-garde keyboard virtuoso from Imbaba, Cairo. He has just released his first international vinyl, Islam Chipsy: Live at the Cairo High Cinema Institute, with the Egyptian record label Nashazphone. Watching Chipsy in action, it's not hard to understand what all the hype is about.

the Guardian
11/28/2013
Sadat and Alaa Fifty: New music from Egypt

Listen on Soundcloud I first saw mahragan singer/MC Sadat El Alamy perform almost a year ago at the iconic downtown Cairo club After Eight - and I was blown away. The 27-year-old's dizzying dance moves fluidly shifted between robotic motions, waist-whirling belly dancing, and hip-hoppin two-steps.

Projects

Mada Masr
Mada Masr

More than any other tech company, Twitter seems to be under fire from governments around the world - not least in the US, its country of origin - over what the government perceives as insufficient action by Twitter to counter jihadis' use of...

Goethe
The five African Cities

To understand why TEN CITIES picked the cities of Cairo, Johannesburg, Lagos, Luanda and Cairo as the African bridgeheads for the project our participant and partner Florian Sievers wrote some short introduction texts about all these fascinating agglomerations. In the future TEN CITIES will drop more and more texts about the cities...

British Council Music
Egypt's Mahragan Music Mania | British Council Music

By Maha ElNabawi Ahmed Farid, aka DJ Figo, is a hard man to get a hold of. But that's to be expected from the pioneer of Egypt's fastest growing genre of music known as mahraganat, (festival) a sonic hybrid mixing sha'bi (popular-folk) and electronic dance music.

Culture Writing

The National
05/26/2018
Sab3 Gar: the progressive series gives new view of Egyptian women

When looking back at the past decade of television production in Egypt, few shows that fall outside of the Ramadan season have garnered as wide a viewership as progressive - albeit controversial - new series . The 48-episode, character-driven family drama just wrapped up its first season with a promised, slightly shorter second season set to air on CBC this year .

The National
07/06/2016
Ramadan soaps round-up: mental illness, thrillers and nostalgia | The National

For 30 days during Ramadan, up to 50 "tamsalayas" or soaps produced in Egypt are watched by millions of people around the Arab world. From Dream to MBC, CBC, Al Hayat and every other major player in private Arabic satellite stations, these big-budget productions have become arguably the biggest consumer event in Egypt.

Mada Masr
07/04/2014
Pop, patriarchy and fake nostalgia

In Egypt, pop music is dominated by uber-macho yet metrosexual men, like muscly, botoxed Amr Diab and shiny Tamer Hosny with his well-groomed eyebrows, and by women battling toward purely synthetic appearances, like Haifa Wahbe and Sherine Abdel Wahab. It's a dynamic that mirrors pop elsewhere in the world.