Dazed Digital


Arabic Fusion with Sarah Mason

May 3, 2011

The sound of the Middle East via this new local music documentary

  • Text by Kate Hazell

Writer and producer Sarah Mason’s work focuses on dispelling Middle Eastern myths of the region to the world. Her new documentary "Arabic Fusion" featured at the Gulf Film Festival, showcases the scope of modern Arabic music, ranging from traditional, acoustic sounds, to classic Arabic inspired pop, to electronic.

Satellite Voices: What’s your occupation... a) during the day & b) at night?
Sarah mason: I work full time as a film producer at Avantgarde. We conceptualise and create documentaries, commercials, event movies, media installations and online viral content. At night, I am a music-loving, Arabic-learning, avid reader of fiction and non-fiction focusing on the Middle East.

SV: Where do you live and what inspires you about that area of town?
Sarah Mason: I live in JBR and the ocean inspires me. Its magnificent power, beauty and mystery has captivated me since childhood. In the words of Jacques Cousteau: ‘The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.’ JBR Walk is a positive step to emulate the café culture that I adore of Barcelona, Paris, London, Venice and Buenos Aires. It’s a wonderful place to people-watch on a leisurely Saturday afternoon.

SV: What does Dubai mean to you?
Sarah Mason: When I arrived three-years-ago, Dubai was living at a frenetic, break-neck speed. I definitely feel that the city feels more relaxed now in its pace. There is the true sensation here that anything is possible. You have to seize the opportunities that this city presents to you. There is also a burgeoning young music and arts scene: eclectic artists, musicians, bands, filmmakers, painters, calligraphers and writers inspire me every day.

SV: Can you talk about the best creative youth cultures in your town?
Sarah Mason: There is wonderful new local-grown talent in the film, music and arts industry. The creatives in this city are all so supportive of one another. I find that there are few egos in the local creative zone, which is refreshing. Recently, I came across street-art by Emirati born artist Safe. This is only his nick name as his art form is still underground, but to have his work displayed alongside Banksy and Andy Warhol was impressive.

SV: What inspired you to write "Arabic Fusion"?
Sarah Mason: I am passionate about changing perceptions of the region that are so often misconstrued in mainstream media.  Stories of love and music don’t sell newspapers or boost ratings. This documentary is purely about the love of music; it is nonreligious and apolitical. Music connects us all.

SV: What was your highlight during the making of the film?
Sarah Mason: The highlight was discovering the rich array of local talent that exists here! Every artist featured was so wonderfully positive about the production. We met several times before filming and their style, their chosen venue and a unique concept for each. On the production side, one of the highlights was the garden shoot for Mashrou Leila, shot in the peak summer heat. We had a lot of fun that day, but it definitely wasn’t very glamorous!

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