This is an opinion piece written by French-Algerian singer Elias. This piece refers to the lack of representation in the dominant cultural landscape across diverse fields, such as art, film, literature, music, fashion, and possibly others. 

Ask someone outside of the community this question : Could you name 2 mainstream Arab musicians? Actors? Models?

Creative industries often overlook Arab artists and their contributions. Their representation on screen, music platforms, and campaigns is often subpar. In addition, their opinions are rarely credited or included in the “global” art conversation. This lack of visibility can lead to a misconception that Arab artists do not exist or are not active in the field. However, this is far from the truth.

Understanding the Global Arab Population 

– According to the United Nations, the estimated global population of Arabs is approximately 422 million people.

– The Arab World is comprised of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

– The Arab diaspora is a global community of people of Arab descent who live outside the traditional Arab world. It has its roots in historical events such as colonization, political turmoil, and economic changes that have driven many families to migrate to other parts of the world. 

Overcoming Stereotypes

Stereotypes and misrepresentation are significant reasons why Arab artists are not given the same chances. The far too often narrow and negatively-lensed presentation perpetuates misconceptions and false narratives. Most talented Arab artists don’t receive the recognition they deserve across various fields, such as music, literature, film, and visual arts – leaving many Arab creatives with a feeling of neglect.

The Power of Representation

Self-esteem, confidence, and a sense of belonging can be profoundly impacted by seeing one’s identity reflected adequately in media and culture. Positive and diverse representations of Arabs in mainstream media can help combat negative stereotypes and promote a better understanding of Arab culture and experiences among children and adults.

It can also inspire and encourage young Arab artists and creatives to pursue their passions, make their own contributions to the cultural landscape and help create a more inclusive and equitable society where all voices are heard and valued.

Lack of Diversity in Decision-Making Roles 

Individuals from dominant cultural groups hold many decision-making positions in the media and cultural industries, which can result in a lack of representation and understanding of diverse perspectives and experiences.

The underrepresentation of diverse perspectives can also limit the types of stories and how they are told. This can result in a lack of nuance, complexity, and authenticity in representing cultural groups. The outcome may be an oversimplified and superficial representation of cultural groups.

Social Media and The New Era For Arab Culture.

Social media has played a significant role in helping Arab culture gain popularity and mainstream recognition in recent years. Through platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, Arab artists, musicians, and creatives have showcased their work and connected with audiences worldwide.

Those platforms have also allowed Arab communities to share their stories, traditions, and experiences, promoting a more accurate and nuanced understanding of Arab culture. As a result, Arab culture has gained a growing following and appreciation outside the community, with people from diverse backgrounds embracing and celebrating its richness and diversity.

This piece was originally published as an instagram post on Elias’s account.