IFPI Further Boosts Arab Music Market With Launch of MENA Regional Song Chart

With interest growing in the fast-developing Middle East music industry, global labels body IFPI has launched a weekly streaming chart to track the popularity of singles among listeners in the region.

Charts compiler BMAT is preparing the chart, which will cover 13 countries in the MENA region: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates. Those markets collectively represent more than 300 million people.

IFPI is making the chart publicly available, with a top 10 announced via Instagram and Facebook, and the top 20 released every Tuesday on the Official MENA Chart website (www.theofficialmenachart.com).


IFPI says its Official MENA Chart is the first music streaming chart in the world to track music in a particular region and the first ever official chart in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). While other music charts, including those put out by Luminate, have tracked the popularity of music in individual countries, such as India, a chart looking at streaming performance in a region is less common.

The new chart will bring more legitimacy to the Middle East’s music market, which has been historically plagued by piracy. Anghami, the first legal streaming service in the Arab world, which went public on the Nasdaq last year, offers daily and weekly charts tracking the most-streamed songs in the region.

The MENA singles chart is supported by IFPI and includes chart-eligible streams from Apple Music, Spotify, Anghami, YouTube and Deezer. IFPI says that in accordance with its global chart principles, streams from each market are “weighted to take into account the difference in economics between the free and paid tiers of streaming services and are also weighted to account for the differences in economics across countries, using IFPI’s global market measurement expertise.” Unlike many charts, the IFPI chart also lists each song’s label affiliation.

An IFPI spokesperson tells Billboard that IFPI has no plans to offer more regional charts at this time, nor to make the chart positions below No. 20 available, even as a subscriber product.

For the MENA chart’s first official week, covering Nov. 18 to Nov. 24, Nigerian artist Rema claimed the top spot with “Calm Down.” (The Virgin Music artist entered the Billboard Hot 100 on Sept. 17 for the first time with a remix of the song with Selena Gomez, which is at No. 82 on the most recent list). Five of the top 10 songs were by Arab artists, with Egyptian artist Farid at No. 2 with “بأمارة مين,” while countryman Ahmed Saad took the No. 4 position with “Wasa3 Wasa3.” (Saad held three spots in the top 20, also taking No. 8 with “El Youm El Helw Dah” and No. 19 with “Aleky Eyoun.”)

IFPI, in a press release, says that the influence of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar can be clearly seen on the MENA chart’s debut. Two songs from the official tournament soundtrack — “Arhbo” at No. 3 and Jungkook’s “Dreamers” — featured in the top 10, while Shakira’s classic “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” — originally released for the 2010 World Cup — charted at No. 9 and “Tukoh Taka” by Nicki Minaj, Maluma and Myriam Fares came in at No. 11.

Other international artists in the MENA Chart’s top 20 include “Unholy” by Sam Smith featuring Kim Petras at No. 6, “Under The Influence” by Chris Brown at No. 13 and “Rich Flex” by Drake and 21 Savage at No. 14.

Alexei Barrionuevo