Mahraganat (English: festivals; Egyptian Arabic: مهرجانات‎ [mɑh.ɾɑ.ɡɑˈnɑːt]) or electro mahragan is a genre of Egyptian electronic dance music. Mahraganat is a combination of popular shaabi music played at weddings and electronic dance music. DJ Figo made the genre more well known with his team "set dyaba" released during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Although this may be the first ever track to go mainstream, Mahraganat was originally conceived first by DJ Ahmed Figo, El Sadat, Feelo and Alaa Fifty in 2004. They shared their music via MP3 files and phones, and it could be heard playing in taxis, tuktuks and on the street.[1] The first ever Mahragan mix was released by the group of friends in 2006 and it was called "Mahragan Elsalam", named after their neighbourhood 'Elsalam', it talked about friendship and how to be mature.


The origins of mahraganat (mahragan songs) lie in the popular (sha'bi) neighborhoods and slums of Cairo. In 2006-7, wedding DJs began combining shaabi music and electronic dance music with influences from reggaeton, grime and rap.[2] In 2011, the Revolution began and the genre reflected the political turmoil as DJ Figo, released his first big single entitled "Ana Baba, Y’lla"[3] Initially, mahragan received no airplay on radio or television and spread online by means of such sites as YouTube and SoundCloud. Like mulid (a different sub-genre of sha'bi music) it is dance music, not meant for sitting and listening. Mahragan street performances inspire wild, sometimes acrobatic dancing, combining hip-hop moves with raqs baladi (Egyptian folk dancing).[4] In 2014, mahragan DJ Souissy signed a record deal and artists such as EEK (which is purely music without lyrics) brought the genre to the mainstream in Egypt. By summer 2014, mahraganat had become popular throughout all of Egypt. Outside of Egypt, the genre was popularised by alternative culture magazine Audio Kultur and the Cairo Liberation Front. Dance music blog Generation Bass also helped introduce mahraganat to European audiences. In 2014, a group of mahragan DJs toured the Netherlands.[5]

In 2016, Mahragan DJ Zola was shot and killed on the street during celebrations of the Revolution's fifth anniversary. The government announced Muslim Brotherhood protesters were responsible for the shooting, while DJ Sadat held the police responsible.[5]

The genre was considered vulgar by some older and more conservative Egyptians. This is because of the social status of the performers and fans, the controversial topics and style of lyrics, use of obscenities,[6] and personal style of the sarsagiyya (mahragan fans.) In 2016, Nagham FM radio station banned maharagan songs from its programs, citing that they did not "match Egyptian customs and traditions".[7] However, television shows and music producers moved to cash in on the new trend, signing certain artists, such as Oka & Ortega, who have performed more widely since 2013[8] and recorded some commercials, and many hit songs.

On Valentine's Day 2020, a concert was held in Cairo Stadium featuring Tamer Hosny, Nancy Ajram, Wael Jassar, and others. Hassan Shakoush, a leading Mahraganat singer, was also invited to the concert alongside his co-singer, Omar Kamal, where they performed their superhit, Bent El-Geran (The Neighbor's Daughter). In light of this, there was some momentum on social media criticizing what they called a lack of age appropriateness of parts of the lyrics and a deviation from Egyptian values. Those criticisms were frequently referring to one explicit line stating "I drink alcohol and smoke Hashish". However, the singers reacted by releasing a video where they claimed that what happened was an indvertent mistake. In the video, they apologized and explained that the wrong version was played even though another version had already been recorded where the explicit line was altered.[9] Shortly after, the Egyptian union of musicians decided to ban Mahraganat music in Egypt and to deny Mahraganat singers their memberships, including Mohamed Ramadan.[10]

In popular cultureEdit

In 2013, Hind Meddeb released a documentary about the genre titled Electro Chaabi.


  1. ^ Sherifa Zuhur "Mulid and Mahragan: Invoking Spirituality and Popular Authenticity in Egyptian Music and Dance” Paper presented to the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, 9/15/18."
  2. ^ Peavey, April (24 June 2014). "In Egypt, 'electro-chaabi' music stirs up controversy". The World. PRI.
  3. ^ ElNabawi, Maha. "Meet and Sadat sang "Ash-sha'b wa-l-hukuma" (The People and the Government) Some of the Major Players". British Council. Archived from the original on 2014-06-21. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  4. ^ Sherifa Zuhur, “Mulid: Regenerating Spiritual and Popular Legitimacy in Egyptian Music and Dance and the Sister Genres of Sha’bi and Mahragan.” Presented to the Fifth World Congress on Middle East Studies, Seville, Spain, July 19, 2018
  5. ^ a b "DJ Ahmed "Zo'la" Mohsen shot in the head on Egyptian revolution's anniversary". Al Bawaba. January 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "Egypt's Music of Protest". MERIP. 2 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Egypt: Radio station bans mahraganat song". Freemuse. May 17, 2016. Archived from the original on May 26, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Hubbard, Ben (11 May 2013). "Out of Egypt's Chaos, Musical Rebellion". The New York Times.
  9. ^ ‫اعتذار رسمي من حسن شاكوش و عمر كمال لي... - حسن شاكوش - Hassan Shakosh, retrieved 2020-02-17
  10. ^ "Egypt's Musical Syndicate Bans Popular Mahraganat Music". Egyptian Streets. 2020-02-17. Retrieved 2020-02-17.