Music of Kuwait

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Tabla player Ustad Munawar Khan at the 8th International Music Festival in Kuwait Kuwaititabla.jpg
Tabla player Ustad Munawar Khan at the 8th International Music Festival in Kuwait

Kuwait is well known in the region for its exploration of many different and new forms of music and dance. [1] Kuwait is the birthplace of various popular musical genres such as sawt. [2] [3] Kuwait is widely considered the centre of traditional music in the Persian Gulf. [2] [3] The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre is the largest opera house in the Middle East. [4]

Kuwait Country in Western Asia

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.5 million people: 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 3.2 million are expatriates. Expatriates account for 70% of the population.

Sawt (music)

Sawt is a kind of popular music found in Kuwait and Bahrain. Sawt is a complex form of urban music, originally performed by 'ud and mirwas, with a violin later supplementing the arrangement.

Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre

The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre (JACC), informally known as the Kuwait Opera House, is a prominent cultural center in Kuwait, located on the Gulf Road in the capital Kuwait City. It is the largest cultural center and opera house in the Middle East. The cultural centre is part of the new Kuwait National Cultural District.



Kuwait is the birthplace of various popular musical genres, such as sawt. [2] [3] Traditional Kuwaiti music is derived from the country's seafaring heritage. In pre-oil times, Kuwait was regionally renowned for its music and 20–30% of Kuwaitis were professional musicians. [5] Kuwait is widely considered the centre of traditional music in the Persian Gulf. [2] [3] Traditional Kuwaiti music reflects the cosmopolitan influence of many diverse cultures. [6]

Kuwait's seafaring tradition is known for songs such as "Fidjeri". [7] "Fidjeri" is a musical repertoire performed traditionally by male pearl divers. It involves singing, clapping, drums and dances with earthen water jars. "Liwa" and "Fann at-Tanbura" are types of music performed mainly by Kuwaitis of East African origin. "Al Arda Al Bahariya" is a well-known Kuwaiti sailor song, as are the "al-Nahma", a class of songs that accompanied many sailing activities.

Līwa is a traditional dance of African origin performed in Eastern Arabia, mainly within communities of descendants of people from the Swahili Coast. It is also performed by the African-descended Sheedi community, as well as the Baloch of Pakistan's Makran Coast and Karachi area.

Fann aṭ-Ṭanbūra is a traditional music and dance genre in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, especially Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Musically, the tanbūra instrument plays a central role, along with several drums and the manjur—an instrument made of several goat hooves wrapped around the waist of the performer.

East Africa Eastern region of the African continent

East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern region of the African continent, variably defined by geography. In the United Nations Statistics Division scheme of geographic regions, 20 territories make up Eastern Africa:

Kuwait pioneered contemporary Khaliji music. [8] [9] [10] Kuwaitis were the first commercial recording artists in the Gulf region. [8] [9] [10] The first known Kuwaiti recordings were made between 1912 and 1915. [11] Kuwait is known as the center for sawt, a bluesy style of music made popular in the 1970s. Saleh and Daoud Al-Kuwaity were prominent Kuwaiti musicians who wrote over 650 songs, many of which are considered traditional and still played daily on radio stations both in Kuwait and the rest of the Arab world. [12] [13] [14]

Khaliji is a type of modern contemporary music characteristic of Central and Eastern Arabia and popular across the Arab world. It is characterized by heavy use of the oud and other string instruments such as the violin, the occasional use of bagpipes, and the inclusion of percussion instruments such as the mirwas, tabl, and duff drums. Khaliji incorporates elements of African, Indian, and Iranian music overlaying indigenous Arabian genres such as Samri, Liwa, and Sawt. Kuwait pioneered the Khaliji genre into its modern form in the second half of the 20th century and soon became the focal point of the industry in a fashion similar to Cairo and Beirut in the case of Khaliji (music). Kuwaitis, in addition to Saudis, were also among the first commercial recording artists and composers in the Persian Gulf region and the Khaliji scene continues to be dominated primarily by Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Bahraini artists and composers today.

Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds, fifths or sevenths flattened in pitch are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.

Saleh (1908–1986) and Daud (1910–1976) Al-Kuwaity were Jewish musicians born in Kuwait as Saleh and Daud Ezra. Having written some of the most famous songs of all time in Arabic music, their music is to this day famous throughout the Arab world, although they are relatively unknown in Israel.

Kuwait has a reputation for being the central music influence of the GCC countries. [15] [16] Over the last decade of satellite television stations, many Kuwaiti musicians have become household names in other Arab countries. For example, Bashar Al Shatty became famous due to Star Academy . Contemporary Kuwaiti music is popular throughout the Arab world. Nawal El Kuwaiti, Nabeel Shoail and Abdallah Al Rowaished are the most popular contemporary performers. [1]

Gulf Cooperation Council a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq.

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, originally known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf except Iraq, namely: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Charter of the GCC was signed on 25 May 1981, formally establishing the institution.

<i>Star Academy</i> (Arabia) television series

Star Academy Arab World, also known as Star Academy: Al-Academya or Star Academy Arabia, is a pan-Arab televised talent show, which aired in 2003. The show features a group of young male and female candidates who are selected from a pan-Arab pool of more than three-thousand and are sequestered for four months in "The Academy," a four-story building in Lebanon, where they live, train, and compete against one another every week. The show became an instant success and an everyday much-watched event across the Arab World.

Abdallah Al Rowaished Kuwait singer

Abdallah Alruwaished is an Arab singer from Kuwait. To date, he has released over 30 albums.

Opera House

The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre contains the largest opera house in the Middle East. [4] Kuwait is home to various music festivals, including the International Music Festival hosted by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL). [17] [18] The annual Gulf Music Festival features internationally renowned jazz musicians and local musicians. [19] [20]


Kuwait has several academic institutions specializing in university-level music education. [21] [22] [23] The Higher Institute of Musical Arts was established by the government to provide bachelor's degrees in music. [21] [22] [23] In addition, the College of Basic Education offers bachelor's degrees in music education. [21] [22] [23] The Institute of Musical Studies offers degrees equivalent to secondary school. [21] [23] [22]

See also

Related Research Articles

Emir of Kuwait Wikimedia list article

The Emir of the State of Kuwait is the monarch and head of state of Kuwait. It is the most powerful position in the country. The emirs of Kuwait are members of the Al-Sabah dynasty, which originate from the Bani Utbah; a federation of clans in the Arabian Peninsula.

The music of Bahrain is part of the Persian Gulf folk traditions. Alongside Kuwait, it is known for sawt music, a bluesy genre influenced by African, Indian and Persian music. Sultan Hamid, Ali Bahar and Khaled El Sheikh are among the most popular musicians from Bahrain.

Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Prime Minister of Kuwait

Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, GCB (Hon), GCMG (Hon) of the al-Sabah dynasty, was the Emir of Kuwait and Commander of the Military of Kuwait; serving from 31 December 1977 until his death on 15 January 2006 due to cerebral hemorrhage. The third monarch to rule Kuwait since its independence from Britain, Jaber had previously served as minister of finance and Economy from 1962 until 1965, when he was appointed prime minister prior to becoming Kuwait's ruler.

The music of Oman has been strongly affected by the country's coastal location, with Omani sailors interacting with, and bringing back music from, Egypt, Tanzania and elsewhere. More recently, a Portuguese occupation has left its own marks, while geographic neighbors like the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran have also had a profound influence. In contrast to other Arab countries, Omani traditional music has a strong emphasis on rhythm.

Culture of Kuwait culture of an area

Kuwaiti popular culture, in the form of dialect poetry, film, theatre, radio and television soap opera, flourishes and is even exported to neighboring states. Within the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, the culture of Kuwait is the closest to the culture of Bahrain.


Fidjeri is the specific repertoire of vocal music sung by the pearl divers of Eastern Arabia's coastal Gulf states, especially Bahrain and Kuwait. A lead singer is backed up by a chorus of accompanying singers and clapping. The accompanying instruments to a fidjeri ensemble are a small double-sided hand-drum, known as the mirwās and the jāhlah, a clay pot played with both hands.

Arab states of the Persian Gulf

The Arab states of the Arabian Gulf are the seven Arab states which border the Arabian Gulf, namely Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This excludes the non-Arab state of Iran. All of these nations except Iraq are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and prefer to use the term "Arabian Gulf" rather than the historical name of the Arabian Gulf.

Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is the Crown Prince of Kuwait and Deputy Commander of the Military of Kuwait. He is a half-brother of the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Nawaf was nominated as Crown Prince on 7 February 2006 against the tradition of the Al-Sabah family, according to which the offices of Emir and Crown Prince alternate between the Al-Jaber and Al-Salem branches. He is currently the oldest Crown Prince in the world.

The culture of Bahrain is part of the historical region of Eastern Arabia. Thus, Bahrain's culture is similar to that of its Arab neighbours in the Persian Gulf region. Bahrain is known for its cosmopolitanism, Bahraini citizens are very ethnically diverse. Though the state religion is Islam, the country is tolerant towards other religions: Catholic and Orthodox churches, Hindu temples as well as a (now-defunct) Jewish synagogue are present on the island.

Culture of Eastern Arabia

There is a rich and ancient culture in Eastern Arabia. Eastern Arabia's culture has always been oriented towards the sea.

Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah Prime Minister of Kuwait

Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah is a Kuwaiti politician and the Prime Minister of Kuwait since 2011. Previously he served as Minister of Defense as well as Deputy Prime Minister.

Abdulhussain Abdulredha actor and writer

Abdulhussain Abdulredha was a Kuwaiti actor.

Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Sheikh of Kuwait

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was the tenth ruler of Kuwait, from 29 March 1921 until his death on 29 January 1950.

Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Emir of Kuwait

Sheikh Sabah IV Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah GCB (Hon) is the Emir of Kuwait and the Commander of the Kuwait Military Forces. He was sworn in on 29 January 2006 after confirmation by the National Assembly. He is the fourth son of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Salim Rashid Suri was a 20th-century ṣawt singer and oud player from Oman. He is particularly associated with the ṣawt genre called Ṣawt al-Khaleej.

The Kuwait National Cultural District is multi billion dollar development project that focuses on the arts and culture in Kuwait. With a capital cost of more than US$1 billion, the project is one of the largest cultural investments in the world today. The Kuwait National Cultural District is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.

The Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre is a cultural complex located in Kuwait City, Kuwait owned by the Amiri Diwan. It consists of six main components; The Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Space Museum, Arabic Islamic Science Museum, Fine Arts Centre and the external spaces known as the Public Realm. The Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre is a 18-hectare site making it the world’s largest museum complex


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