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FEN in 2010: Artists to Watch //


2009 was a great year for Arab-American art and artists. We watched as organizations dedicated to promoting our community of artists grew all over the U.S. and Canada. We read, saw and listened to the works of emerging artists, while celebrating the continued success of those whose work we’re already familiar with.

With all of this positive growth in the scene, we can’t help but want to look ahead. This is our list — by no means definitive. Who would be on yours? Let us know below…

Baha Khalil

BahaKhalilComedian Baha Khalil first took the stage no less than five months into 2009, and every step since has been an exciting one. A few shows here, a sketch there…time will confirm, but something tells us Baha is building up to something great in 2010. What’s the comedian himself have to say for the New Year? “Big things coming this year like the Arab Comedy TV show, a full length acoustic album of original music, and shows combining comedy and music. I will continuously be putting stuff out for everyone to enjoy.”




If you weren’t lucky enough to catch Aftermath when it took the stage at the New York Theatre Workshop in September and October of 2009, you missed out on something big with an immeasurable potential for impact worldwide. Rumour has it that we’re not the only ones who see that potential, and the docu-play about the aftermath of the Iraq war may hit the road in 2010. If it does and comes through your town, GO!


Arab-American Comedy


With annual festivals on both coasts and satellite shows all over the world, Arab-American comedy is spreading widely and picking up speed. New comedians are appearing everywhere, material is getting more diverse and crowds are growing. And with some of the scene’s founders shopping scripts around, it’s only a matter of time before it takes to screen and draws even more mainstream love. And that’s good love for all of us.


Najla Said


You probably heard the buzz about Najla Said in 2009. It was likely along the lines of: “Did you hear? Edward Said’s daughter is doing a show?” And though Najla is undoubtedly a daddy’s girl, she made a name of her own in 2009. Her hard work paid off and her play, Palestine was picked up by Twilight Theatre Company and will be playing for the better part of 2010 in New York.


Eyad Zahra


While Director Eyad Zahra has had his eye behind the lens and on emerging trends, we’ve had our eye on him and we’re keeping it there in 2010. His upcoming film, The Taqwacores is the OFFICIAL SELECTION of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Need we say more?


Tahani Salah


Tahani Salah, the young spoken-word poet and performer has already caught the attention of Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam. In 2010, she continues her work on stage with the Tug of War Tour and a one-person show, “Letters of the Storyteller.” If you get the chance to see her live, don’t miss it–otherwise, keep a lookout for her upcoming book, Respect the Mic.


Checkpoint 303


Checkpoint 303 goes beyond art in the visual and musical experience they’ve taken to venues all over the world in 2009. What started as an idea to “cut, track, fragment and reconstruct the audio soundscape from daily lives in the Middle East” has turned into “new audio reporting on injustice”–raising awareness about Palestine. They promise to keep bringing the noise in the New Year, making them artists to not only be watched but listened to in 2010.


Simona Abdallah


We first heard about Simona Abdallah when Columnist Mona Eltahawy mentioned her in a recent interview with Monocle. In Mona’s words: “Simona Abdallah doesn’t just play the darbuka, a type of Arab drum. That’s too meek a verb. She kneads and strikes, cajoles and strokes, her hands moving so fast you lose sight of her fingers.” The Denmark-based percussionist, who also happens to be the only Arab female percussionist we know of, will be moving to the United States in 2010.


FEN Magazine


Finally, you’ll definitely want to follow FEN in 2010. The fun has just begun as we continue to fulfill our promise to scour skylines and countrysides in pursuit of this infectious love of art. And we’re cooking up new features and artist collaborations you won’t want to miss. Happy New Year!


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