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5 Popular Music Videos Shot in Arab Countries

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Moroccan-American hip hop artist French Montana has sent the web-sphere into a spin after revealing the hotly-anticipated music video for his latest single from the Jungle Rules album. The rapper decided to go back to his roots when shooting the visuals for Famous – opting for Northwestern Moroccan city Chefchaouen, where he grew up, as his backdrop. “This video means a lot to me,” he wrote on Instagram. “Shot this in my motherland Morocco.”

Known for its blue-washed buildings, narrow cobblestoned streets, and colorful, bustling markets, Chefchaouen makes for a striking backdrop. Directed by French Montana and Director X (who also directed music videos for Rihanna, Drake, and Zayn Malik), the four-minute video offers a scenic, visual tour of Morocco replete with a street soccer match, dance-off, and awe-inspiring views of the city.

This is not the first time that an artist has turned to the Arab world for inspiring cityscapes. Over the years, Arab countries have stolen the spotlight in a number of visuals. Here are some of the best:

Bad Girls – M.I.A

British recording artist M.I.A set off to the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate to shoot her 2012 music video for Bad Girls. The visual, which was filmed in solidarity with the women’s right to drive movement, immediately went viral. Directed by Romain Gavras, the music video went on to win the VMA for Best Cinematography as well as the Best Direction. It lost to We Found Love by Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna in the Video of the Year category. It was also nominated for a Grammy. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has since lifted its long-standing ban on female drivers.

Bodak Yellow – Cardi B

Cardi B’s breakout single as a rapper, Bodak Yellow, was filmed in the United Arab Emirates. The grammy-nominated video has racked up over 428 million views on YouTube, and it’s still climbing. Set in Dubai, the clip opens up with aerial views of the sprawling city. It goes on to show the artist riding a camel through the desert and feeding exotic animals. Bodak Yellow went on to top the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for three consecutive weeks, as well as receive nominations for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the upcoming 60th edition of the Grammy Awards.

Mercy – Kanye West Feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz
Kanye West chose to film the music video for his 2012 song Mercy in an underground car park in Qatar. The black-and-white visual featured West, as well as featured rappers Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz donning Bedouin-style turbans and dancing in front of a Lamborghini Murciélago.

Believer – Major Lazer
Believer by Major Lazer was inspired by the Syrian crisis. The clip, which was filmed on location in Egypt with a cast of locals, features spliced up home footage that depicts the struggle of Syrian children amid the ongoing war. It was directed by Christopher Louie, who stated in a press release that the video was directly inspired by the images of Omran Daqneesh, the Syrian boy whose home was bombed at night. “Like everyone in the world, I was heartbroken by that image, but I also saw a glimmer of hope,” he said. The video has been tied to the Save the Children organization with a link to donate in the description box.

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