From Fairouz to Umm Kulthum, the ultimate Arabic music playlist to celebrate Eid Al Fitr

We may be spending Eid Al Fitr at home this year, but we can still mark the holiday with some great music

Fairouz performs in Beirut in 2010. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Eid Al Fitr may be slightly different this year, with millions of people around the world unable to travel or gather in groups because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But there are some traditions that we don't have to compromise on in the midst of the outbreak. An important one is that of the Eid playlist, full of classical music, to help mark the occasion.

While everyone has their own musical tastes, there are plenty of much-loved favourites that endure across the Arab world.

Here is my favourite playlist that I've been listening to since my childhood growing up in Saudi Arabia, right up until today.

Umm Kulthum: 'Ya Leilet El Eid'

One of the most renowned singers from the region, Umm Kulthum needs no introduction. This song was released in 1939, but it still resounds even 80 years later – and is a staple in many Arab households on the eve of Eid.

The song begins with lyrics welcoming the eve of Eid, stating that the holiday has "warmed our hearts" and renewed our hopes.

Mohammed Abdu: 'Min Al Ayadeen W Min Alfaizeen'

Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu is known as "The Artist of the Arabs". This song, which was first recorded in 1971, is especially popular in the Gulf region.

"Min Al Ayadeen w Min Alfaizeen" is a common greeting during Eid, translating into English as "we wish you enjoy many Eids and gain their blessings".

If someone greets you with this phrase, the perfect response is "W Min Alghanmeen Wa Alsalmeen”, which means “we wish you good blessings and good health”.

Safaa Abu Al Saud: 'Ahlan Ahlan Bel Eid'

This song, sung in the Egyptian dialect, was released in the early '80s. But what makes it so special is that it is targeted towards children and has a cheerful video clip, which features children playing. Even today, this is a popular song among the young and old alike.

As well as being a renowned actress, Al Saud was also well known for her roles in plays and musicals dedicated to children.

Talal Maddah: 'Kol ‘am wa antum bekhair'

This song, by Saudi singer Talal Maddah, was broadcast for the first time on Saudi national television in 1982. But for the past three decades, it has remained popular in not only Saudi, but the surrounding Gulf countries.

Its popularity is perhaps due to its very simple lyrics and beat. The greeting "Kol 'am wa antum bekhair" is common in the Arab world, and literally translates to "we wish you goodness every year".

Al Thulathi Al Mareh: Ahlan bil Eid

This Egyptian song is my number one favourite Eid track, because of its unique tune and cheerful lyrics.

It was sung by the all-girl band Al Thulathi Al Mareh (The Triple Fun Squad), made up of of Wafa Mustafa, Saffa Lutfi and Sana Al Baroni. The group was famous throughout the 1950s.

Fairouz: 'Ayam Alaid'

This is the only song on my list from the Levant area, courtesy of the one and only Fairuz.

I love this song for the simple fact it brings Muslims and Christians together, with an underlying message of unity and tolerance. It is a song synonymous with both Eids – Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha – and Eid Al Qiyama for Christians.

'Atonna Eidiyah'

My last song is a Khaleeji folk song entitled Atonna Eidiyah. It signifies the tradition of eidiyah, which is the custom of gift-giving during the Eid holiday.