An extraordinary double bill exploring Arab sounds of the African continent, from Egypt to Zanzibar.

Sufism vs Modernism: Fathy Salama and Sheikh Mahmoud Tohamy

The sounds and rhythms of traditional Sufi chanting and contemporary Arabian jazz come together in a unique harmony of Arabic sounds. The Arab World’s only Grammy and BBC Awards winner, Fathy Salama, known for his band Sharkiat and his work on Youssou N’Dour’s Egypt, is joined by renowned Egyptian Sufi chanter, Sheikh Mahmoud Tohamy.

Zanzibari Taarab / Kidumbak Ensemble – Dhow Countries Music Academy

The instrumental colors of Indian Ocean culture blend with the African-Arab synthesis of Taarab music. The Dhow Countries Music Academy is the only music school in Zanzibar dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the music heritage of the Dhow Region with emphasis on teaching the traditional music styles of taarab, kidumbak and ngoma.

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Fathy Salama and Sheikh Mahmoud Tohamy

Dhow Countries Music Academy


Fathy Salama is the Arab world’s only Grammy and BBC Awards Winner. He is an Egyptian composer, arranger and musician, well known for his hits in Cairo during the 1980s. Salama, the former creator of al jeel music, is involved in the revival of the Egyptian traditional music.

Salama has also been an active contributor for various Egyptian musicians, such as Amr Diab, Mohamed Mounir and Ali el-Hagar. Since 1988, Salama’s group “Sharkiat” (Easterners) has performed over 2,000 times across the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals and contributed award-winning music to the Egyptian movie Angel Paradise by director Osama Fawzy.

Salama won the Grammy Award (Best Contemporary World Music Album) and the BBC Award for his work on the 2004 album, Egypt. In a collaboration with Youssou N’Dour, Salama served as the producer and conductor, accompanying N’Dour’s music with his own ensemble.

Sheikh Mahmoud Tohamy is a Sufi chanter hailing from Egypt. He is the son of renowned ‘Munshid’ singer Sheikh Yassin Al-Tohamy and the grandson of an Imam at the Great Mosque. Tohamy holds a great legacy, having received his musical training under his father and Sheikh Al-Arif Billah. He regularly performs both in Egypt and internationally.

The Dhow Countries Music Academy is the only music school in Zanzibar and is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the music heritage of the Dhow Region, which includes countries along the shores of the Indian Ocean and the Arab Gulf such as Zanzibar, Comoros, Oman, Kuwait, Iran, India, and the UAE. The academy places particular emphasis on teaching the traditional music styles of_ taarab, kidumbak_ and ngoma.

The Dhow Countries Music Academy took its name from the traditional sailing vessels invented by Arabs and used in the Indian Ocean region. The Arabian Peninsula has a rich maritime history of trade and cultural exchange with the East African coast, including Zanzibar. Dhows have been used in the region for centuries and were key in the development of trade routes, as well as for cultural exchange. The DCMA is a center for the teaching and performance of the music traditions that travelled with these boats from Middle East to Africa.

The Academy was established in 2002 by a group of local musicians and music enthusiasts: Emerson Skeens, Hildegard Kiel, Mohammed Issa “Matona”, Joseph Castico Iddi Farahan, and Haji Mohammed Omar. The DCMA is one of the most prominent ambassadors of taarab music in the world, with more than 1500 students over the years, and has gained an ever-increasing international reputation for teaching traditional music. In 2007, the DCMA was co-presented with the BBC World Music Award, acknowledging “enormous contribution to revitalizing both Zanzibar’s musical heritage and the world music scene globally”. In 2010, the DCMA won the Roskilde World Music Award for teaching traditional music. As well as traditional music, the Academy teaches more global genres and contemporary styles like afro-fusion and jazz and, additionally, hosts special workshops, seminars, concerts, exchange visits and networking activities throughout the year.