Shakira seeks to celebrate her 'Lebo-Syrian' roots - recently feeling inspired while performing in Morocco after her tour through the Emirates and Lebanon, Shakira expressed her keen desire to fast-track her Arabic learning in order to sing some Arabic singles, if not albums.
Half Lebanese by her mixed parentage, she has always claimed a Middle East as well as Latin influence to her music. Shakira often speaks of her Arabic ancestry with pride, revealing that she grew up listening to the Arab world’s classic divas of the 20th century, Egyptian Umm Kalthum and Lebanese Fairuz.
She is classed a Colombian singer, songwriter, musician, who emerged on the music scene of Colombia and Latin America in the early 1990s. Her name, translated from Arabic roughly alludes to 'thankfulness' or 'woman full of grace'. She spent her debut years in pop music singing in her Spanish native tongue, and continued in that strain, only later branching into bilingual albums and versions of Spanish songs in English. But she has made her mark in the Middle East by her association with her father's native Lebanon and her belly-dancing moves, assimilated into Western style dance. Even her hit Spanish language single, Ojas Asi, relies heavily on a Middle Eastern melody.
Shakira seduced by Arab Spring, goes back to Arab roots to sing
Nontheless, she is more at home in her Hispanic roots, more recently seeking solace in the arms of Spanish lover, Barca man Piqué. Even when she connects with the Middle East she has been criticised for the mingling of orient and western in her art form, of objectifying sexualization of a socially respected dance form in the Middle East. Not as though our regional artists Nancy Ajram and Haifa Wahbe aren't somehow guilty of the same thing, bringing more and more western elements into their pop videos.
While she is often accused of pandering to or embodying a modern sexualized Orientalist fantasy, her song She-Wolf was more Britney-Madonna, (hardly shying away from using sex to sell) than Fairuz or classical oriental beats. Arguably Arabs traditionally have used belly dance as a dance of seduction, and she is not the first or the last to exotify the belly dance. Belly dance for the West can be viewed as the original bachelor party entertainment piece.