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1As the Covid-19 crisis has entered its second year and, much like elsewhere, is continuing to transform societies in the Arabian Peninsula, our journal is taking a look at an apparently lighter side of things, that of pop(ular) cultures in the region. Frédéric Lagrange and Clio Chaveneau have masterfully edited this special issue which sheds light on often forgotten dynamics, ones linked to creativity and the demographic beating heart of a region in which youth is central and that is fast changing, in part due to digital technologies.

2Digital cultural productions that are shaped in very spontaneous and accessible modes remain an overlooked sub-field, in part due to their apparent novelty. Yet, as highlighted in the issue, pop culture productions have a historical depth that remains to be uncovered and made explicit, unveiling a number of references that are almost spontaneous and natural to ‘insiders’. However, pop culture productions remain unintelligible to many, including foreign researchers who work on and live in the Arabian Peninsula. From names of musical bands to quotes from TV series and popular board games, these references, used daily, frequently combine globalized modes of expression with local singularities. Contemporary pop culture of the Arabia Peninsula is both distinct and permanently engaged in a dialogue with cultural and artistic expressions which have been an object of academic interest for many years: on the one hand, folklore expressions constructed as identitary totems (such as nabaṭī poetry, pearl-divers music, etc.), often instrumentalized by states for nation-building purposes, and on the other hand high-brow cultural objects (fiction literature, art-house cinema, etc.). But remaining at the crossroads of both, modern pop culture in the Gulf and Yemen has not yet taken its fair share of analysis, unlike other regions in the Arab world.

3By deciphering “pop culture” and also linking it to more global dynamics, including those linked to power politics and government control, Arabian Humanities is participating to a wider debate which contests the exceptionality of the region. The six articles of the special issue, along with its introduction, offer fascinating vantage points that highlight, through at times apparently peripheral cultural practices, a wide range of meaningful social and political dynamics.

4The varia articles and book reviews of this issue follow a similar path, letting our journal embody the ongoing ambition of the Centre Français de Recherche de la Péninsule Arabique (CEFREPA). On January 1st, 2021, the CEFAS changed its name in order to emphasize its aim to cover the whole of the Arabian Peninsula valuing interdisciplinary approaches, a will that was at the core of the ambition of our research institution when it was established close to 40 years ago in Sana’a. Issue after issue, Arabian Humanities, thanks to a most dedicated team, intends to remain true to this scientific project.

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Laurent Bonnefoy et Abbès Zouache, « Editorial », Arabian Humanities [En ligne], 14 | 2020, mis en ligne le 25 février 2021, consulté le 21 septembre 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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Laurent Bonnefoy

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Abbès Zouache

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