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The Grammys Are Coming to the Middle East (Kind Of)


By now it’s undeniable: the Arab World’s music industry has never shone as bright as it does today— at least not since the days of Umm Kulthum. Over the past few years, our local industry has been brimming with talent, attracting the interest of many from within and beyond our region. And the latest entity to add itself to the long list of institutions keen on expanding their presence in the Middle East is none other than the organizers of the Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy.

In a recent announcement, the world’s leading society of music professionals revealed having inked several agreements with prominent Arab governments and African leaders to strengthen, while enhancing, the Academy’s presence across both regions. Recent signatories include the Ministries of Culture in Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi, the Rwanda Development Board, and the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture in South Africa. 

In a press release, Academy representatives shared that they have been collaborating with several leaders for the past two years by organizing listening sessions, receiving high-level briefings, tours, and demonstrations, while gathering insights from various governmental ministries and music creators from these targeted markets. They also announced their intention to publish a series of reports detailing their findings in the near future.

“This is exciting because music is one of humanity’s greatest natural resources,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “It is critical that the people who dedicate themselves to creating music have support, resources and opportunities, no matter where they are from,” he added.

“The Recording Academy is dedicated to supporting music creators around the world,” Panos A. Panay, Recording Academy President, added. “Our expansion efforts into these fast-growing regions reflect our commitment to fostering a truly global music community, where creators at every stage of their careers and from every corner of the world have the resources and support they need to thrive.”

What’s more, the Academy is set to support and train artists through their own learning platform “GRAMMY GO,” alongside offering tailored educational programs and resources catering to the unique needs of music creators in these regions. They will also curate original content that highlights and supports emerging acts from both Africa and the Middle East.

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