9 Rising Arab Women Artists To Know Right Now

Meet the new wave of Arab women bringing their heritage to the forefront of the global music scene

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From Palestinian siren Elyanna's Coachella set to Egyptian neo-soul rapper Felukah and Saudi Arabian singer-songwriter TamTam's performances at the 2022 World Cup, Arab music is going global. Many women are at the forefront of this new wave, ushering in the beginning of an unprecedented era of representation.

“We’re getting bigger and there’s no denying it,” Felukah says. “Arab women have always played a crucial role in the music industry, we’re just finally getting the global recognition we’ve always deserved. I think the internet has helped us platform ourselves, but it’s also deeper than that. It’s a social awakening.”

Despite the rich history of legendary Arab women singers like Umm Kulthum and Fairouz, and even contemporaries like Nancy Ajram and Shadia Mansour, there’s still a major gender disparity faced by Arab women artists. In 2020, Spotify analytics revealed that women remain significantly underrepresented in the Arab and global music scene with almost 60% of aspiring women artists discouraged from pursuing music as a career due to pervasive stigmas and stereotypes. In response, the platform launched campaigns like Sawtik and Equal Arabia, with the goal of amplifying the music of women artists in the region. Coupled with a broader cultural shift and the rise of platforms like TikTok, these initiatives have played a pivotal role in empowering and elevating Arab women in music in recent years.

For Felukah, music transcends its artistic realm and assumes a profound role in challenging stereotypes. “Music is like documentary poetics to me,” says Felukah, who fuses Western and Arab influences in her songs. “It’s a vessel for history. The more we encourage Arab women and women everywhere to create, produce, and present their work, the more included we are in the narrative. I explore these exact issues in my work, I guess I really enjoy being meta about all of it. Talking about the music within the music. The work within the work.”

Using music as a powerful platform for empowerment, Sudanese rapper Nadine El Roubi, whose unapologetic lyrical flow caught the attention of none other than SZA herself, raps and sings about what it means to be an Afro-Arab woman on hits like “Honey Butter” and “New Era.” “We're trying to normalize our culture, our stories, elevate our representation because that is how we erase xenophobia and racism,” El Roubi says. “When those identities are normalized, you’re like this doesn’t feel different anymore. And if it's not different, then I'm not scared of it, and I feel like music is such a huge step in doing that."

El Roubi hopes her songs can help nuance the depiction of the modern Arab woman: one who embraces autonomy, femininity, and sexuality. “Arab women are often perceived as objects of beauty, but our authentic stories are yet to be fully represented in mass media,” she adds. “When people think of the Arab woman's story, they often associate it with Islam and oppression. However, they fail to see the nuanced aspects of our experiences.”

This transformative wave of Arab women artists is fearlessly reclaiming their own narrative, challenging and rejecting the distorted mainstream perception of Arab womanhood and refusing to be confined as mere objects of oppression or fetishization. They are also just creating some of the most eclectic and diverse soundscapes in music right now, some singing solely in Arabic or English, or seamlessly blending both languages and sometimes even incorporating a third. Discover and get to know nine of the most exciting rising Arab women musicians set to conquer 2023 — and hear our playlist, below.

Lana Lubany

Who: London-based Palestinian-American artist Lana Lubany took the internet by storm after posting a TikTok video of her playing her 2022 single “THE SNAKE” for her mom, amassing a staggering 7.5 million views. That was followed by another viral hit, “POINT OF NO RETURN,” which garnered an astounding 17.2 million views on TikTok alone. With a unique soundscape fusing Eastern percussive rhythms and melodies with a captivating Western dark rock sheen, Lubany has firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with.

What: Blending English and Arabic lyrics, her sound has been compared to the likes of Billie Eilish and Rosalía. Her introspective and haunting vocals draw listeners into a world of vulnerability and self-discovery as seen on her tracks “SOLD,” which explores self-sabotage, and “CLONES,” which delves into the different personas we all possess. Her alt-pop sound carries an enigmatic allure, complemented by touches of R&B and soul.

What’s Next: Currently touring in Europe with Saint Levant, she’s expected to release her debut EP, The Holy Land, on June 2.

Her Words: “We’ve been stereotyped very negatively a lot in the Western media, and I feel like that’s about to change,” she told Pitchfork. “People are more open-minded and, through art, we’re going to break this barrier that’s been created.”


Who: Meet the Lebanese-Canadian songstress who risked it all by dropping out of medical school in Montreal to pursue music with her alluring soulful R&B voice and bad-bitch attitude.

What: Zeina captivated the TikTok realm with her unapologetic toxic girl content and soul-stirring R&B ballads. Her 2023 debut trilingual hit “NASTY” claimed a spot in the Top 10 in Egypt and Morocco and trended in France and Germany. With a sensual blend of dark pop, trap, and R&B, Zeina creates an emotional sonic tapestry layered by lyricism that delves deep into the intimate details of her sexual relationships — unafraid of taboos surrounding discussions of sexuality in the Arab world, particularly from a female perspective. Collaborating with industry powerhouses like Skrillex and acclaimed producers, her raw talent shines through.

What’s Next: A new 12-track EP titled Eastend Confessions is set to release later this year.

Her Words: She wants to inspire the next wave of Arab artists, to “empower other women, and other Arabs in general, to pursue their dreams and have the balls to do so because it’s your life, not your family’s,” per GQ Middle East.


Who: Born and raised in Nazareth, Palestine and now based in Los Angeles, the remarkable vocalist Elyanna has etched her name in history as the first artist to perform an entire set in Arabic at Coachella. Her groundbreaking 2023 performance featured an unreleased mawwal, a traditional Arabic vocal style, alongside original music from her two EPs.

What: Elyanna's musical style leans alt-pop, seamlessly blending cultural influences into her sound. With reimagined renditions of popular songs like “La Vie en Rose” and Arabic classics such as “Ahwak,” she puts her unique spin on beloved classics while also crafting her own mesmerizing hits like “Ghareeb Alay” and “Ana Lahale,” all sung entirely in Arabic. In 2018, she was signed by Wassim 'Sal' Slaiby, famously The Weeknd’s manager.

What’s Next: A new EP is in the works featuring unreleased music she performed at Coachella 2023.

Her Words: “I don’t want to do whatever,” she told NYLON. “I don’t want to put out things I don’t believe in and things that don’t inspire me and things that make me lose interest.”


Who: After growing up in Cairo and moving to New York to study creative writing, Felukah has emerged as a groundbreaking voice in the Egyptian rap scene, her music resonating deeply with fellow third-culture kids. Born Sara Elmessiry, her moniker stands for the traditional Egyptian boat that sails through the Nile, mirroring the same “ride the wave” vibe of her style and flow.

What: With her unique blend of trap, jazz, and lo-fi, Felukah stays true to her Arab roots while exploring the cultural intersections between the East and West. Her songs, often bilingual, redefine the image of an Egyptian woman, embracing self-confidence and individuality despite growing up around shame culture. Through remixes like her rendition of Warda’s iconic “Batwanes Beek,” heartfelt shout-outs to Egyptian actress Salma Abu Deif and supermodel Imaan Hammam on her single “Egyptian Lover,” and fearlessly covering girl anthems like PinkPantheress and Ice Spice's “Boys A Liar pt.2” in Arabic, Felukah is boldly reshaping cultural narratives and showcasing the strength of Arab women.

What’s Next: A new project, Hibiskiss, and a dance music EP are in the works.

Her Words: “I hope that my music inspires confidence in Egyptian women to express themselves however they see fit,” she told Azeema Magazine.

Nadine El Roubi

Who: Nadine El Roubi, Sudanese rapper, combines neo-soul, R&B, and hip-hop, intertwining Arab influences in her music. With thought-provoking and confrontational lyrics, she dives into her personal perspectives on politics and society on her songs. In a recent display of solidarity with those affected by the war in Sudan, Nadine released a powerful now-deleted freestyle and performed at a benefit concert.

What: Co-signed by SZA, who shared a clip of her freestyling on Instagram, El Roubi’s dynamic sound traverses genres, delivering powerful and hard-hitting rap tracks like “3aib” and “New Era” which address shame culture and women empowerment, and experimental R&B with silky and sensual vocals like “Honey Butter” and “Munny.”

What’s Next: A new single, “Culture,” arrives in June.

Her Words: “Gender is being used to qualify every art form. It’s just frustrating because rap, rapping, hip-hop… it’s a genderless genre,” she told Mille World. “It’s just a medium of expression. A skillset. Me being a woman should have nothing to do with it. I don’t want to be anyone’s favorite ‘female rapper.’ I want to be someone’s favorite rapper, period.”


Who: During the pandemic Palestinian-Jordanian artist Zeyne found her voice on Instagram, embarking on a musical journey after her career in public relations was put on hold.

What: On her captivating 2021 breakout single “Minni Ana,” Zeyne delves into her personal struggles in managing relationships, while the evocative “Nostalgia” immerses listeners in a paradoxical longing for a homeland many in the diaspora have never truly experienced. Zeyne's artistry offers a glimpse into her innermost thoughts and emotions, skillfully infusing contemporary Arabic pop with vibrant R&B elements.

What’s Next: TBA.

Her Words: “I truly believe that Arabic music will be the next mainstream genre over the next couple of years,” she told YUNG. “Arabic music will become global music – what a time to be alive!”


Who: Perrie El Hariri, an Egyptian-Moroccan rapper and producer, made waves in 2020 with her breakout single “Shigella,” a powerful anthem that boldly called out men's disrespectful behavior towards women in Egyptian society (and responded to Tameem Youness’s hit “Salmonella”). The song caught the attention of Spotify, leading to her becoming an Equal Arabia Ambassador featured on a billboard in Times Square.

What: Perrie's self-written and composed songs like “El Sa3a Tes3a,” showcase her fierce lyrical flow, and production, mixing, and mastering talents, gaining her global recognition. Collaborations with respected Egyptian rap artists like Abyusif have further solidified her reputation and helped her build a dedicated fanbase. Her 2023 EP, Trauma, embraces vulnerability and her authentic self.

What’s Next: TBA.

Her Words: "I do it for myself, the [hip hop] culture and women," she told The National.


Who: Manal Benchlikha (aka Manal), is a Moroccan singer-songwriter who was chosen to feature on “Light in the Sky,” a song for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. She is also the first-ever ambassador of Spotify’s EQUAL program.

What: Known for her unique blend of Moroccan hip-hop, Afropop, and Afrohouse, rooted in her heritage, Manal rose to international acclaim with her debut single “Denia,” earning her the Best Female Artist in North Africa by Africa Music Award. Her song “3ARI” fuses reggaeton, Arabic percussion, delicate piano melodies, and haunting strings to poignantly delve into the realities of domestic violence in Morocco.

What’s Next: A new album is set to arrive in 2024.

Her Words: “I wanted to talk about things that many Moroccans don’t normally talk about, like sexual harassment and gender stereotypes” she told Spotify. “For those in Morocco, rap is for men, not women. I think all the criticism just made me be a stronger person.”


Who: Khtek stands as one of the pioneering female rappers in the Moroccan music scene. Born Houda Abouz, she adopted the moniker “Khtek,” derived from the Arabic word for “your sister.”

What: Khtek is representing Moroccan rap music’s next generation, disrupting the male-dominated industry with her raw vocals and relatable lyrics. Her 2020 debut single “KickOff” powerfully critiques a society that denies women equal opportunities. With lyrics delivered in Moroccan Arabic dialect darja, interspersed with phrases in French and English, her songs showcase her seamless flow across three languages.

What’s Next: TBA.

Her Words: “Rap is my passion and my defense mechanism in a patriarchal society,” she told New York Post.

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