Khaliji music (also spelled Khaleeji; Arabic: الموسيقى الخليجية meaning Gulf music) is the music of Eastern Arabia, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and it is popular across the Arab world. It is traditionally characterized by heavy use of the rebab, oud and other string instruments such as the violin, the occasional use of habbān, and the inclusion of percussion instruments such as the mirwas, tabl, and duff drums. Khaliji music first started as a bedouin tradition with poetry sung by a tribe's shaa'ir, which means poet, usually accompanied by a rebab, the lyrics dealt with tales of honor, love, camel riders, and glory warriors.

Khaliji music has roots going back more than 1,000 years, to the Islamic period, under the Umayyads and Abbasids in Baghdad, Iraq.[1] In the modern era, Kuwaitis were the first commercial recording artists and composers in the Persian Gulf region; Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia 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, but in recent years UAE has increased its impact on the Khaliji genre.[2][3][4][5] The Khaliji scene mainly consists of by Iraqi, Emirati, Kuwaiti, Bahraini, and Saudi artists today.[2][3][4][5][6] Along with its main Arabian style, Khaliji music can also sometimes incorporate few elements of East African along with the Arabian genre such as Liwa, Moradah, and Sawt reflecting the region's ethnic history.[7][8]

In recent years, a new Independent scene has started to emerge in Arab states of the Persian Gulf that aims to challenge the sociocultural norms of modern Khaleeji society through a sound that's distinct from traditional Khaliji music, the scene has been coined as "Alternative Khaliji" by Kuwaiti-American musician +Aziz.[9]

List of notable Khaliji singers

Eastern Arabia





United Arab Emirates

Other Arab countries








See also


  1. ^ "Afropop Worldwide | Feature: Africans in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf".
  2. ^ a b Mustafa Said. "The History of Recording in the Gulf Area". sharjaharat. Archived from the original on 16 April 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b Laith Ulaby. Performing the Past: Sea Music in the Arab Gulf States. p. 99. ISBN 9781109122480. Archived from the original on 19 February 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b Mustafa Said. "The History of Recording in the Gulf Area (2)". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b Saeed, Saeed (2012-07-24). "Music of the Arab World: The history and development of Khaleeji music". The National. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  6. ^ Dubai, Art. "Has Khaleeji Pop Music Evolved?: An Interactive Lecture by Bahraini Art Platform Too Far". Art Dubai. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  7. ^ Eyre, Banning. "Feature: Africans in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf (interview with Joseph Braude)". Afropop Worldwide. Retrieved 16 September 2014.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Sekka (2021-04-30). "The African influence on Khaleeji music". Sekka. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  9. ^ a b "The Gulf's New Sound: Indie Music and Global Change". Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. 2021-07-12. Retrieved 2022-10-22.