Common Arabic phrases in Pop Culture by Celebrities
We all are now global citizens. Borders and boundaries between countries do not matter for people with passion in their heart. Yet, there is a bias against those who have middle eastern/Arab origins.
Western media in particular, has a prejudice in the manner with which they depict people of Arab origins.
Even common Arabic phrases are often scrutinized and judged without understanding their meaning.
Times are thankfully changing. With this blog, we shall capture the changing tides with global acceptance of Arabic language, Arabic phrases, Arabic sayings and its vast culture.
Many celebrities have used Arabic references in their work. Let’s catch up with some of them.
Oscar winning Best Actor for movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in 2019, Rami Malek, did the unexpected. In his acceptance speech, he brought into focus his Egyptian origins.
He said, “I am the son of immigrants from Egypt, I’m a first generation American and part of my story is being written right now.’’
Many of his subsequent interviews had him speaking Arabic phrases while thanking his parents for the exposure to quality Arabic cinema in his early years.
Going a step ahead, Ramy Youssef broke internet when he said ‘Allahu Akbar' in winning speech at the Golden Globes. A common Arabic phrase, meaning “God (Allah) is greatest”, it is used nonchalantly in everyday life by Muslims.
Alas, those who are ignorant of the vast Arabic culture, often judge and compare this phrase with a parallel context.
One of the most influential producer and performer of all time, JayZ’s song ‘Family Feud ft. Beyoncé’ has “Alhamdulillah, I run through 'em all." When a rapper of such great influence drops a common Arabic phrase in his song, one is sure that the world would notice. And notice it did.
Micro blogging site, Twitter was flooded with fans in support of the rapper for giving thanks where it is due.
The video of the song talks about JayZ’s success. ‘Alhamdulillah’ means ‘Praise be to God’. Don’t we all thank the almighty for all the good that happens in life?
Waad Al Kateab
When ‘For Sama’ won the BAFTAS’s for best documentary short; its creator, Waad Al Kateab spoke about the cost of revolution, that the innocent citizens of Syria pay.
When she and her film was nominated for the Oscars, she left no stone unturned to bring to focus her strong Arabic culture and heritage.
She wore a custom gown which had Arabic phrase embroidered in the back. "We dared to dream, we don't regret asking for our dignity," reads Waad Al Kateab's dress in Arabic, a message from a poem she couldn't resist sharing.
While other celebrities wore brands and sported jewellery that dazzled, Waad Al Kateab took the high road and got her message across to millions.
We would be amiss if we do not cover the one that started the trend of using Arabic phrases in pop culture. Back in 1975, when the Middle East was synonym with magic carpets and snake charmers, a land said to be filled with camels and a stereotypical, close minded oil rich sheikhs, one man dared to speak out loud. A man unlike any other.
Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of ‘Queen’ created the most iconic song on all time, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. One word, ‘Bismillah’ used in his lyrics had a generation people intrigued. The 2019 film on the same name, captures his struggle with the moment when this holy phrase was criticized by the record producer.
Freddie was born in Zanzibar, Africa and was a Zoroastrian by religion. His use of word ‘Bismillah’ brought to forte his acceptance of all religions.
As time changes, we are sure many more celebrities shall bring Arabic culture, Arabic language, and its significance in the spot light.
Only then will we be able to shed the prejudice that is associated with the region and their cultural values.