A Journey of Self-Realization: 8 Arab Women Podcasters You Should Listen To
Open and honest conversations are integral to achieving cultural and societal change. It is by allowing people to speak up, to be listened to, and to provide them with a space where they can be truly themselves and courageously speak about deeper issues that ‘hidden’ injustices become visible to society.
Podcasting, a new form of digital audio (radio), helps achieve that. It turns silenced stories and invisible pain to spoken words and conversations that can be listened to and shared by anyone. For Arab women, it has recently become their weapon to document their experiences, stories, work and connect with other women in order to touch upon key issues in society.
Hosted by Alaa Balkhy, a serial entrepreneur from Jeddah and manages the platform Minnana, Arab women podcasters came together for a roundtable on July 30 to talk about how they are starting conversations to inspire change and change perceptions towards the MENA region.
Here is a list of these Arab women podcasters that you should listen to:
1. Bayneh W Baynak
Rana Alamuddin is a Lebanese actress and TV host, and founder of “Beni w Benak” podcast, which is directed towards the “multi-facted Arab women on a journey to self-realization.” The podcast was born from her move from Hollywood to Saudi Arabia, as she felt that her dream as an actress was unfulfilled and wanted to use her own voice for her community instead.
“It started as a conversation series and then it turned into an online platform, growing organically and looks towards the future on how we can find our own place and redefine life as Arab women on our own terms,” Alamuddin says.
Alamuddin adds that she noticed that there was little room for someone to openly speak about sensitive topics such as abuse – no “audio sonic experience” for this story to be told. “The show allowed us to navigate these issues. When we talk about empowerment, it is not about going out and doing things, but sometimes it is about sitting at home and eating with the family that might be making our life more difficult,” she says.
2. Dukkan Show
The Dokkan Show, which is co-hosted by Reem Hameed, is the longest standing podcast in the Middle East tackling identity and culture. It tries to encapsulate the experiences of being a third culture kid, and to provide a space for Arabs to come together to explore the issues they face in a changing world.
For Hameed, the podcast was essentially about representation. “I couldn’t ever find someone representing us, and so when we speak, it is to define the Arab woman in the digital generation. It helps us reach our authentic self and to be completely honest,” Hameed notes.
3. Arab-American Psycho
Based in Orlando, Florida with Palestinian heritage, Nour Elkhadi started the ‘Arab-American Psycho’ podcast to start conversations with people from different backgrounds and the Arab background in particular, since she experienced struggles connecting with the Arab community. “It is about bringing together all cultures and seeing how there are actually so many similarities,” Elkhadi says.
Elkadi notes that it is important for young Arab women and girls and to see someone who is “not putting themselves in a box,” and as a visibly Muslim woman, she makes it a point to never alter her personality under any circumstances. “We are having these vulnerable conversations and I want it to be exactly like that – a conversation with a friend and talk about the things you are ashamed of, because shame culture is huge in the Arab world and I want to get rid of that, since everything is seen as 3’eeb (shameful),” Elkhadi says.
4. Radical Contemporary
Radical Contemporary is a podcast by Egyptian writer Noor Hassan, which features regional creatives, such as artists, designers, photographers, and third culture kids to bring them all under one umbrella and showcase their work.
“When I started radical, I didn’t have any reference or any online magazine that gathers all creatives together, and it takes a lot of research. So I wanted to help people avoid what I faced in the beginning through this platform,” she told Egyptian Streets. “It is there to tell people about access, networking and how you can find like-minded individuals that can help you build your career.”
Hosted and produced by Khayra Bundakjii, Muhammed bashrahil and Fatma, the podcast aims towards encouraging listeners and guests to reach their authentic self and speak openly about their experiences. It tackles several topics such as work, marriage and family struggles, and culture in Arab world.
“It (podcasting) felt like a safe space. You can say whatever you want. If you keep thinking of the barriers while speaking, then you won’t be free,” Fatma says.
6. Yalla, Bye
Hosted by two sisters Hager Eldaas and Mnatallah Eldaas, two Egyptian-American sisters in New York, the podcast ‘Yalla, Bye’ is about two sisters opening conversations for all Arab women to relate to and find a perfect medium where it is intimate enough to honestly express various issues. It tackles work, 3ozomas (family gatherings), growing up Arab, and marriage and relationships.
“We wanted this to be completely authentic. We are not going to filter, we are not going to censor, we will say everything we want to say, and show the side of Arab women that many don’t know that well,” Mnatallah Eldaas says, “It’s the silliness that attracts our audiences, because being organic is key to podcasting.”
7. Mariam Al Sibai
As a British-Syrian designer, Banter podcast is by Mariam Al Sibai to share her journey as a young designer and how she began her own collection to inspire other designers and small business owners. On top of that, it shows another side of the Arab woman in the region, who owns and manages her own fashion brand and is taking ownership of her own identity and story.
“It is a place where we can go in and vent and chat about the experiences we had so far, and connect and communicate with our customers and our young designers,” Al Sibai says. Like an audio blog, it helps reveal the inside life of a designer and the reality of the struggles and challenges.
8. Hammam Radio
Launched from Berlin by Paola, Marwa, Rasha, Jojo and Abir, ‘Hammam Radio’ is a feminist participatory project that amplifies women’s voices matter in times of crisis of capitalism and patriarchy. It tackles various issues such as marriage, identity and immigration, sex, and transphobia.
Subscribe to our newsletter