The podcast industry is growing in the Middle East. While there are no definitive statistics for the region, positive trends in podcast-listening habits have been noted. For example, a study released in August by Markettiers Mena revealed there were 1.3 million regular podcast listeners in the UAE and it noted the medium's popularity was increasing more here than in other markets.
Here are six podcasts or podcast networks from the region – which broadcast programmes in Arabic, English and even "Arablish" – worth tuning in to.
The Amman-based platform offers podcasts in Arabic on a range of subjects, including contemporary writing from or about the Mena region, the philosophical relationship between religion and state in the Arab world and the importance of taking images in conflict zones – to name a few.
This platform is based in the UAE and produces shows in both English and Arabic. Each of the programmes tell stories about the region and the people from or currently living here. “We tell the kinds of stories in which we can actually see ourselves,” the team writes on their website. “The kinds of stories we want to discuss with our friends over warm cups of coffee on cozy sofas.”
Hosted by Jamil Adas and Isra Abu Zayed, this English-language podcast is named after a term coined by Arab elders to describe today’s westernised Arab youth. “We chose to embrace the term with humour as it playfully describes the Arab millennials,” say the founders. It offers casual, light-hearted storytelling with a Middle Eastern twist.
The Mstdfr Network is based in Jeddah and is Saudi Arabia's first podcast network. It started with The Mstdfr Show, presented by the network's founders Ammar Sabban and Rami Taibah, but has grown to encompass programmes in Arabic, English and "Arablish".
The UAE's national newspaper produces English-language podcasts dissecting events and happenings across the region and the world. This includes Beyond the Headlines, which takes an in-depth look at the day's biggest stories, as well as Business Extra, tackling business stories, Pocketful of Dirhams, hosted by the paper's personal finance editor, and Books of My Life, interviews with literary giants on their top pieces of writing.
This Arabic-language culture podcast from Saudi Arabia is produced and hosted by Abdulrahman Abumalih. Fnjan is the Arabic word for coffee cup and Abumalih likes to keep the atmosphere casual so that his guests, who range from big-name celebrities and dignitaries to regular folk, feel comfortable sharing their stories. He's run interviews with the likes of Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development Noura Al Kaabi and Emirati art expert Sultan Al Qassemi.