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Welcome to December's Zameena!


Full of Seasonal Goodies for you!
Merry Christmas EVERYONE and Happy New Year
(GOSH, let's hope it's a good one!)

We invite you along to the amazing interview with Khaled
His is a magical story of how he got into bellydance.


Do you have an Instagram account? 
Katie gives her 5 Top Tips on how to get it to work for you.

 There's more and maybe we'll see you at either the Saiidi Stick Workshop
on Saturday or at our Christmas Hafla on 19th Dec
.

We hope you enjoy and if you do, be sure to share and tell friends about Zameena  - spread the bellydance LOVE ❤️  
If reading from an external link SUBSCRIBE HERE for free
 Khaled Mahmoud  - The Interview!

As Khaled opens the door to his Cairo home I am overwhelmed!

I was excited when Khaled agreed to do an interview for Zameena but nothing could have prepared me for this. Khaled, in the doorway, looks so amazingly stylish. 
HE IS GLOWING! His aura knocks me over. And, this is just the start!
The beauty of his apartment and then from the fluffiness of the carpet aahhhhh, his new puppy Bubsy! I can hardly catch my breath. Khaled stands just smiling at me as I squeal in delight, telling him how thankful I am for having me over and how cute Bubsy is and how beautiful his house is!  Khaled is kind and calm.

After much fussing of the puppy. I asked him about his beautiful home. Does this new house mean he will be in Egypt more often now? We have been blessed in having Khaled in the UK for over 20 years.

“We, me and Sheila, decided a year or so back to have something like this. When visiting Egypt: most of the time we stay in a hotel.  But yes now I think so. I will be spending more time in Egypt.  Because of my business. I started it in Egypt and I’ll be between England and Cairo.

Khaled is so inviting. He gives me a tour of the house. On the walls and shelves are many beautiful items which he has collected on his travels around the world. Travels made possible through bellydance. There is lots of memorabilia of past festivals. You can tell they are close to his heart.
I ask if the business he mentioned was his costume business.
 
“Yes! For maybe 12 years now, or more.  I have designed my own costumes. And for many others such as I designed for Kazafy

We discuss and laugh about how he started to make his own costumes as it can be so hard to get an external designer to make exactly what is in your head! I can totally empathise!

“I have my own style. My own personality of my costumes. Fingers crossed - everything crossed, I want to be different from the other designers in Egypt.” 

He goes on to tell me that it's not just bellydance costumes that he wants to design. He wants to design wedding dresses and high fashion too, with influences from the UK and Paris but with an Egyptian twist. He shares the story of how it all started when he was asked by his daughter to make her wedding dress.

“I designed my daughter’s engagement dress.  However, my daughter said she wanted me to not just design her wedding dress but to make it too! I went to Malaysia and bought the fabric.” 
The photos he shows me (one is above) of the wedding are stunning You can tell he loves his daughter so very much! The house has several beautiful pictures of her and though she doesn’t live with him, she has her own room in the house for when she visits.

I mention that I had seen on Instagram that his designs have already been a hit with many famous dancers. 
  
“Yes, Anastasia, Christina, Oxana……. Soraya, she’s coming after tomorrow and I would love to do more for Egyptians as well.  I don’t want to design just for the foreigners.  I want to do for Egyptians too."

Khaled talks about his wife, Sheila, a lot and like his daughter there are several beautiful phots of her around the house and also antique gifts form his mother-in-law which, from my tour of the house, I can tell have a very special place in his heart.

 
Sheila is my love! Without her I would be nothing!”
(Above: a photo of Khaled and Sheila at the wedding)

His words move me. In the last few moth’s during the Covid lockdowns she hasn’t been able to accompany Khaled on his Cairo trips. He misses her. You can tell,  even though they are relatively short periods when they are away from each other.

“We met in Luxor, me and Sheila, on holiday over 20 years ago. She was on holiday and I was on holiday as well. We met there and we started to be friends.  I met Sara Farouk there too.”

I asked if they met because he was there for dance related work.

“No. no I was not working in Bellydance I was working in a business company in Egypt and I was on holiday.  I was not a professional - I danced just as a normal guy, you know like at home or something. But, I was a little bit better of course.”  

Khaled then goes on to tell me a story which is almost that of fairy tales. He had always loved dance and trained a little as a child, including in ballet which he didn’t take such a liking to – not as much as bellydance! However, due to family pressures he never pursued his dream UNTIL he met this group of British bellydancers in Luxor and was discovered - Quite by chance!
 
“I also met Tracy. Tracy Gibbs!  Both of them, when they see me dancing, they believed!! They thought I would be a good dancer and very good teacher. We all stayed in contact. They started to bring some students to Cairo and they invited me to teach them.

 “Sheila and I were not thinking of marriage, but we were still in contact.  Then, Sara and Tracy invited me for workshops in Manchester and London and I saw Sheila again.  Students started saying, 'Oh, why you not stay here? Stay in England' and when I came back and told Sheila she said, 'Why not?'"

I can't explain how speechless I am as Khaled tells me of this magical tale! I look at him with just an expression of WOOOW !! He sees my expression of amazement.

“YES, It is a dream and I didn’t wake up till now. A chance like this coming once (in a lifetime), I say yes.  I didn’t think.  If I think for one minute I wouldn’t have become a dancer.

“I went to Fantasia with Jo Wise.  I danced in the Souk. Not even in the hafla, not in the show. In the souk! Everyone says, 
'Oooooo, that boy, he’s dancing and he’s lovely, his shimmies!' And they said, 'OK, after this Fantasia, next Fantasia you are here as a teacher.'

.
“I started to travel from city to city every weekend. To teach. Maria d’Silva and Anna Arabella  invited me for workshops. Both of them they are so great. The greatest women in UK.  I never met till today and I still love them.”
He talks with a very SPECIAL love in his voice for the British bellydance community. It is obvious how much they mean to him. Every individual he mentions with SUCH personal passion and love. He is so thankful to them all for this dream.

“One day I was in the workshop of Raqia Hassan, there in England.  Not in Egypt. When she saw me she said, 'That boy, he is soooo good.' she said, 'You will have to come back to Egypt with me for Ahlan Wa Sahlan'.

From Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival, Khaled started to travel, first all over Europe and then the WORLD! To this day he is a worldwide superstar. However, it is obvious it wasn't just luck and opportunity. He also worked very hard to get where he is today. It wasn’t just luck.

“In all those early years, in the UK, I worked every weekend in many, night clubs and restaurants and I worked at Gatwick Airport as well! All to make money to come back to Egypt, to Raqia Hassan and Mahmoud Reda and Aida Nour! and Lubna! She’s my own teacher. She taught me how to make a choreography. And I had to spend money to pay them to learn how to be not just a dancer but a teacher.

Lubna said, 'Teacher is forever, just dancer is a shorter life.' and it’s true.” 


Khaled’s story fascinates me! A unique journey. It's obvious to me it was his destiny. I try to compose myself from how stunned I am from it all.

I bring the conversation back to the present. He has obviously been heavily involved with the bellydance community and festivals. It is to them he owes his fame. But what does he think of the current festival scene?

“Any dancer in Europe, China, Japan, anywhere outside Egypt  they really appreciate the oriental dance and they show our culture – from folklore, many folklore in Egypt and oriental, with respect and on a high level. They put oriental dance in theatre. Really for that, I adore these people. I adore these and all the teachers…. like Bianca Orrisio ......  they are making oriental dance in high level.

“Of course some of them  are very good and some of them,  I’ll not say they are not good but they learn like one month, two months and they say, 'OK I am a dancer, I can teach.'  No, it is not that easy.  You have to do the hard work to get to be a dancer.  That really is what I wanted to say."
 
We talk a little about the dance scene today. It is a not a straight forward topic and it is obvious he tries to be as inoffensive and non-judgmental as possible.

“I don’t want to say it. I don’t know what to say.   Some people they dance. They dance and make show. They make majency, Oum Kalthoum, baladi, and some folklore and everything. Some of them they are just the body. This is for both foreign dancers and Egyptian dancers. Both.” 

When I ask what he thinks the future for bellydance is, particularly in Egypt, he closes his eyes and a beautiful smile comes across his face….

“It will come back (referring to golden era time). Inshallah, It will come back to the Egyptian because oriental dance will never die. Will never die. And every day, inshallah, is born another good dancer.”

His smile warms my heart!
So, that’s the future of bellydance but what is his future? Dance? Costumes?

“I will never stop. I will never stop dancing!

"I will tell you something, when Corona lockdowns started  I was home in England for 3  months. I was very  depressed. I started getting very fat.  I stopped my Facebook. I stopped  contacting everybody. But then, just one girl she said, 'I want a private class with you.' She came.  And from that I came back again!


“I said to myself that I have to stop all the depression. That girl, she made me happy and my wife said, Khalid, the happiness for you is your dancing.  Dance is your happiness. Don’t ever stop dancing. Even if you are making your own business. Don’t stop dancing'."

I can relate to everything he is saying! I went through similar things in Corona lock down. I love just how honest and humble Khaled is. Regardless of how famous he is, he is down-to-earth and kind.
I want to know about his dance philosophy!

“I always say these things: Don’t stop learning. Listen to your teacher and don’t be snobbish. Don’t stop dancing!”

And his best bellydance advice?

“Believe in yourself.  Don’t  care about if you’re big, you’re small, you’re fat or slimmer. You are beautiful! It doesn’t matter. Just be yourself and go for it.
The audience can hurt you especially those in the first row. Don’t bother. Don’t look at them. Dance. Dance as you would in front of a mirror and enjoy. Enjoy your music. Yes!”


This confidence in oneself is something I always strive for in my dance too. As I mentioned before, it seems that Khaled was destined for all this. But has he ever doubted himself?  I ask him and he shares what is obviously a key moment in his early dance days:

“I am in Stockholm. Stockholm Dance Festival and in the  front two rows are all the  biggest names, famous teachers in the world. And when I enter, my eyes are looking everywhere and Aida Nour, she said, 'Khalid, come, I want to say something to you.  Why your eyes always looking everywhere?' 
I said, 'Because I am afraid. I am afraid of you.'
Aida said, 'No, don’t be afraid. Let the stage be afraid of you. Don’t be afraid of the stage'.” 


I breath in the story and the advice that lies within it! We chat a little more and he shares many other amazing stories and treats me to some very yummy cheese cake! I could so easily spend hours here!
I thank him and look forward to when we next meet!!

 
❤️  THANK YOU KHALED  ❤️
for the interview, for the warm welcome into your home and
for just being so amazingly YOU!

Connect with Khaled: Facebook  and  Instagram

Let's Enjoy Watching
KHALED  at
ISTANBUL ORIENTAL DANCE FESTIVAL 2019!

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT 
Anna (Arabella Belly Dance), Zara Dance and Zara's Zouk are hosting
Khaled for a
LIVE MUSIC BALADI WORKSHOP 
Yes on ZOOM!! Khaled will be coming live to you from Egypt for 2.5hrs with live accordion and tabla - teaching you the rhythms, taqsims and giving you the opportunity to PRACTICE to a live Accordion Taqsim!! 
Tickets are ONLY £28 (amazing value for money)
AND at Zameena we are giving you an ADDITIONAL offer: 
BOOK BEFORE END OF DECEMBER and only pay £24 Use code KH04
Book Here!

This Christmas, more than ever, it is the time to spread a little bit of Bellydance Magic so let us help you find that special something!

Here are just a few of our suggestions for gifts. For even more check out the shop: www.ZarasZouk.com

Why shop with us this Christmas?
Shop Gifts Under £10 Here
Shop Gifts Under £20 Here
THIS SATURDAY!
Come to this Fab ADVANCED Stick Workshop for £15 Buy here 
You CAN'T MISS IT!

Osman and Zara will slowly and clearly be breaking down
ADVANCED STICK technique for YOU!


Amazing value for money! 2hrs training from 2 Egyptian Teachers and lots of fun!  Support Egyptian Artists during Corona Lockdowns! 
OR get
 The Workshop and December Hafla Ticket for £20 Buy Here
Online ZOOM Hafla
CHRISTMAS PARTY!!

This is one CHRISTMAS PARTY you don't want to miss!
We have an amazing line-up of dancers! Including
Farawla - a young Egyptian Rising STAR who has been dancing shince she was 10. Her stage name, Farawla, means STRAWBERRY! WE LOVE HER and know you will too!
We also have an international line up of dancers and SINGERS!
Prizes for best dressed! And we are going to START the
DISCO EARLY BECAUSE IT'S PARTY TIME!!!! 
ONLINE ZOOM CHRISTMAS HAFLA
SAT 19 DEC | 7.30pm GMT | 2.30pm ET 

Get your ticket here
CHRISTMAS OFFER!!
Book both the Stick Workshop and Hafla for only £20!!! Crazy Cheap!!

Book Here
 ❤️ #weloveourcustomers ❤️ 
 
The gorgeous Molly in her new, fabulous, fringed costume and accessories from Zara's Zouk!

A great big THANK YOU to Molly for being a great sport and for sharing her photo with us!

Check out Costumes here
and Accessories here

Follow Molly on Instagram here
Info Spot
5 TopTips to
Make Instagram Work for You
With Katie Sahar 
Creator of the massively popular #SocialShimmy Challenge and #MahraganatChallenge

Before ‘Mahraganat-gate 2020’, I was championing for more bellydancers to be active on Instagram, the idea being that if you don’t like what you’re seeing, to put out content that YOU would like to see. Here are some tips to make the most of your online presence: 

1) Remember to be social, and comment/interact with other accounts that you like, especially within the first hour of when you post. Don’t just post and ghost!

2) Make use of your stories. Show your face and tell your followers your, ‘behind the scenes’. There's no need to always be perfect, people relate to authenticity. 

3) Bring Value! Gone are the days where you can post a pretty picture and expect the likes and follows to come in. Give your potential audience a reason to follow you beyond aesthetics. 

4) Diversify who you follow. Search different hashtags (e.g. #blackbellydancer, #plussizebellydancer are a great start) and follow people that you don’t normally see. 

5) Be consistent. You don’t need to post every day, but try to have a schedule that you stick to so your audience doesn’t miss you. 3-4 times a week is a great goal. 

Feel free to follow me on Insta for more tips and tricks, and watch out for lectures, downloads and more coming from me in 2021!
--------------
Thank you Katie - some great advice!
Don't forget to check out Katie's Insta and Website
Instagram
Website
Music Corner 
With Zara Dance
The End For Mohamed Ramadan?
I’ve featured Mohamed Ramadan sooooo many times in Music Corner that I have lost count.
He needs no introduction! BUT JUST IN CASE you are a new reader, let me fill you in. He is an Egyptian actor/singer/rapper who has had over 3.3 Billion views on his YouTube channel making him the most followed Arab Artist on YouTube. You probably know him for hits such as
 Mafia, BamBam and his most recent hit Ya Habibi
(all these, and many more, have featured in past issues).

Well, today I don’t have a new song from him - Just "scandal" 
He has been ALL OVER THE EGYPTIAN NEWS – In a story which may mark the END OF RAMADAN. And as always, Music Corner isn’t just about music. It’s about politics and culture because in Egypt they go hand in hand!
And the political topic of today’s story?
EGYPT’S RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL!

So, Egypt and Israel are not the best of friends. They have had several wars in quite recent history and there is still a lot of tension between the two countries over borders. This history, continued potential threat and what is happening to Palestinians means that generally Egyptian’s don’t much like Israelis……..

So, what does Ramadan have to do with all this? He is in trouble. Big trouble! His official (YES Official) crime:
“Normalizing” with Israelis
The singer, on a recent trip to the UAE (not even Israel) was photoed, looking a little too chummy with two Israeli celebrities, a singer, Omer Adam and a semi famous footballer. Ramadan himself never shared the photo but an Emeriti journalist did and then subsequently, and probably what caused the main issue , the State of Israel’s Arabic Twitter account also posted the picture saying,
“Art brings us together”.....  the irony! 


The picture went viral and gained A LOT of  attention on social media
and I don't mean the the good type of attention.
Loads of posts, full of HATE, were circulated tearing down Ramadan and the state of Israel. Everyone in Egypt seems to be angry at Ramadan for being so friendly with Israelis.  And this is just the start. The Egyptian Government are also NOT HAPPY – Ramadan was CHARGED with Normalizing with Israelis (whatever that means). Currently he has been suspended from performing or releasing anything in Egypt as investigations happen. And his Ramadan (the religious festival) TV drama for 2021 has been dropped by the MBC channel.

Ramadan has claimed to not know who he was taking photos with. Claiming he can't check the religion and country of all the fans who take selfies with him. He also put up a post of the Palestinian flag on his Instagram account assuring his fans that he is not an Israeli empathiser!!
Loads of memes on
Facebook are circulating claiming otherwise. Above is just one of many that I have seen on my feed. It reads, "el Khan" "The traitor" and an Israeli flag is plastered across Ramadan's face.

I personally hope (and believe) this will blow over. His crime was basically being friendly! But, who knows?
 It is a reminder that even big name celebrities are not safe. Remember when the famous singer, Sherine, was arrested and charged because she said she wouldn’t drink the water from the Nile? 

It is also a reminder of just how fragile relations are between lsrael and Egypt despite public personas and official ties and treaties between the countries. 
I mean even an Instagram picture can cause a stir! 

If you’re a fan of his – don’t worry. I am sure Ramadan will continue releasing hits on YouTube.  I'm guessing he is going to settle in Dubai.
He's there a lot already. 
New music and a new dancer, Lordiana, to check out

So, we have talked about politics in Egypt, now let's talk about politics in the bellydance world. FINALLY, the bellydance community has caught up and is  discussing Mahraganat Music……
Hmmmm, seems all a bit old news to us here in Music Corner right?
We have been talking about what Mahraganat is and it's political context  since I started this feature nearly 2 and a half years ago! YES THAT LONG! And Mahraganat has been around in the mainstream since the Arab Spring of 2011!  Want to know more about it? CHECK OUT MY MAHRAGAN WORKSHOP HERE!!

And here is a new Mahraganat song that I LOVE and encourage you to have a boogie along to: “Enty M3lma!” (which means roughly “You’re a feisty/strong girl”) .
The song is by Omar Kamal. One of the singers who got Mahragan Banned in Egypt with the stunt they pulled at the Valentine's Ball. It was rumoured that they were supposed to have an official music video made for the song with dancer Lordiana – it currently just has a lyric video WHICH IS ABOVE.

Apparently, they were advised by Hany Shaker, of the music syndicate, (the guy responsible for officiating the Mahraganat ban) not to make the video even for YouTube (which doesn't implement the ban despite the Egyptian government requesting them to do so) because it will not be respectable … and well apparently Omar agreed.  Probably to get back into Hany's good books (I suppose with the intention of some how helping to lift the ban… a ban that seems to have really had very little effect due to Covid and all live music being banned in lockdown). There is definitely some truth to the story. How much I don't know, as there are lots of videos  on social media of Lordiana and Omar in what look like rehearsals.

Interestingly, Lordiana  features in Mahmoud El Lithy’s new music video for his song “Eshta bl Zeybady” which translates to “Cream with Yoghurt”  an inuendo.
(The song video link is below)
It’s a cute music video. Lordiana looks nice. She wears normal clothes, no bedlah. I think the song is ok but nothing original. Usually Mahmoud El Lithy is more Shaabi than Mahragan but this song has some Mahragan beats – to stay up to date I think. Personally, I think he should come up with something more original than just adding a few sound bites if he wants to stay relevant!  
Song Link Below:
 Mahmood Lithey’s new song with Lordiana
“Eshta bl Zeybady”  “Cream with Yoghurt” 
Update from Zara
More details HERE
Thank you for reading!

A big Zameena THANK YOU to Khaled for sharing his story and inviting me into his home and to Katie for her continuing efforts to make Social Media bellydance friendly!

Enjoy Your Celebrations We Wish You a Happy
Hanukka, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa
and New Year!


❤️ & Shimmies from
Zara and Sandra

(the mother daughter team at 
Zara's Zouk)
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