Focus Topic 2022


From 21. March to 6. April 2022, Salam Orient celebrates its 20th edition. Due to the pandemic, the festival was postponed from its usual October date to spring 2022 last year. Apart from the new period, Salam Orient presents itself in the usual manner with a wide range of music. And as introduced for the first time in the last edition in 2020, this year there will also be an artist residency for fine arts in cooperation with the art space philomena+ This time, the literary program is also internationally oriented.

This years´ focus of topic, sheds light on the countries of the Sahara and allows a highly interesting look at regions that are rarely in the public attention.

program overview


In his sensitive work, artist Abdessamad El Montassir deals with the complex socio-political history of his homeland, the Sahara of southern Morocco.

The young Tunisian artists of analogue photography Yasmine Belhassen, Walid Ben Ghezala, Souheila Ghorbel trace the process of deceleration in SOUFFLE – analogue breathing . Following the exhibition, there will be an artist talk and music.

Overcoming the conflicts that all too often determine relations between the neighboring Saharan countries, the four extraordinary singers Noura Mint Seymali, Malika Zarra, Souad Asla and Dighya Mohammad Salem with Les Sahariennes their common musical heritage since last year on the public stages to reaffirm their solidarity and stand united against the difficulties of geopolitics.

The singer and musician Marema who has recently moved to Vienna, also addresses social topics in her songs and Bab L’Bluz belongs to a young generation of Moroccan artists, who sing words of freedom in the Moroccan-Arabic Darija dialect.

The new formation Bedouin Burger stands the congenial duo Lynn Adib from Syria and Zeid Hamdan from Lebanon. It's a unique sound that straddles acoustic and electronic, east and west, paving the way for further exploration. 

Just as exciting is the new project  HUUUM - Cancelled by singer and musician Omid Darvish, electronic musician Rojin Sharafi and Jazz saxophonist Astrid Wiesinger. Together they bring the almost forgotten Iranian dance music culture back to its true purpose: dance.

The internationally renowned Kanun virtuoso and composer Sofia Labropoulou presents with her new album a wonderful fusion of Greek and Mediterranean folk music, classical Ottoman and medieval music as well as experimental and modern music.

Sahib Pashazade is a master of the short-necked lute Tar. Together with Kamran Kerimov (Nagara) and Azad Alimammadov (Balaban), the extraordinary trio presents a rich repertoire of instrumental Mugham pieces.

Writing in and about exile is the theme of this year's literary series. Syrian Author Hamed Abboud writes about his arrival and life in Europe: the irritating meeting of different cultures and the search for his own place in his new home. Raed Wahesh is a Palestinian-Syrian poet, writer and journalist. His most recent texts deal with questions of exile, expulsion and uprooting. The reading will be followed by an artist talk.


Norbert Ehrlich founded Salam Orient in 2002. He has dedicated the festival to the art and culture of the Middle East as well as the Arab regions worldwide. The geographical framework has always been very broad: art and culture from Andalusia, the Maghreb, West and East Africa to the Middle East and Asia. The two-week festival in Vienna has been presenting a varied program from traditional to contemporary music as well as literature, art and dance.

After 15 successful, intensive and beautiful years, artistic director Norbert Ehrlich placed the festival management in the hands of Katrin Pröll and Martina Laab in 2017. The two new managers have been working as organizers in Austria and abroad for many years. In terms of content, Salam Orient continues to present a high quality program of classical-traditional as well as contemporary music and art.

Every year in October (2022 due to the pandemic for the first time in March/April) the festival takes place in different venues in Vienna for 10-14 days: the program includes mainly concerts by international and local artists, but also fine arts, readings, panel discussions, artist talks, workshops and special children's programs.

Cultural policy tasks


Salam Orient has been dedicated to music, art and culture from the Middle East and the Arab world for 20 years. It conveys a current picture of the respective focus regions, with the visualization of classical-traditional as well as contemporary modern music, art and culture. There is also a special focus on socio-political critical artists.

Salam Orient wants to create a platform for encounters and exchange, as well as to promote social, political and cultural debates. On the other hand, with its program, the festival shows the culturally rich contribution, that many people living in Austria bring with them from their countries of origin and makes them accessible to a wider public.
Salam Orient sees its task in the supply of culture and art for the diverse population living in Vienna.