Interview with Mideasttunes founder Esra’a Al Shafei

A screenshot of the current homepage of

Psychedelic trance, heavy metal and hip hop may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of the Middle East but if civil rights activist Esra’a Al Shafei has her way it might start to.

I’ve spoken to Esra’a previously on this blog about the role of women’s rights in the Arab Spring. This time I talked to her about something she has created – Mideasttunes. The site has actually been around for a while but as a WordPress blog but now it is a full fledged website and underground Middle Eastern music search engine.

There are musicians from every genre and from all over the MENA region who are, every day, creating music which reflects the feelings of these troubled societies and often risking their lives to do so. In an attempt to bring these primarily underground musicians to the fore, Esra’a has re-launched this latest website which is a platform for these artists to share their music with the world. At least four new bands or musicians are joining the site every day and Esra’a says some the best music is coming out of Palestine.

Esra’a also founded the renowned MidEastYouth, which she describes as an online platform for voices of dissent throughout the MENA region, among a host of other sites. A list of which can be found on her Wikipedia page.