This post is part of an ongoing series about displacement and migration in contemporary music. For intercultural literacy, art provides important perspectives.
Despite winning Band of the Year award by Esquire Magazine and being invited to the ceremony, Jordanian band El Morabba3 (The Square) were recently denied entry to United Arab Emirates for “safety reasons” according to officials. This is not new to the band as they’ve been facing similar problems since they started back in 2009.
I’ve had the chance to talk to the band in 2015 and they described all the difficulties they face as musicians coming from Jordan and Palestine. They especially showed great disappointment in Arab countries not allowing them to enter for performances, linking that to the fact that Muhammad Abdullah, the band’s singer and bassist, is originally from Gaza.
All this disappointment can be clearly heard in their completely crowdfunded second album “Taraf Al Khait”, which translates to “End of the String”; a metaphor used in Arabic to describe the beginning of realization and coming to peace with reality. Throughout the album, with songs titled “I Don’t Want to Know Where I Come From”, “A Little Further” and “100000 Million Miles”, El Morabba3 tell their lifetime suffering from racism, rejection and identity issues, along with other regional topics.
The official video of the album’s first single “El Mokhtalifeen” or “The Different Ones” shows two different creatures, with one of them desperately trying to contact the other. I can’t help but see the smart criticism of modern day xenophobia in the video: