Focus 2019

From the 14th to 23rd of October, 2019, the new edition of Salam Orient will take place at various venues in Vienna - this time with a regional focus on the Maghreb countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. With the festival, the two organizers Katrin Pröll and Martina Laab want to present the current music scene from the different regions of the Middle East as well as the Arab cultures in all its facets - from traditional music and sounds from Algeria and Morocco to subtle nuances of oriental and jazzy elements by Mahan Mirarab (Iran) or Orwa Saleh (Syria) to traditionally inspired electronic pop ballads by, among others, Dudu Tassa & the Kuwaitis (Israel / Iraq), but also by bands from Tunisia and Sudan. Particularly also those regions are highlighted which are currently marked by political crises, in order to raise public awareness and to show a different perspective through art and culture. Another important concern of the organizers is the presentation of female artists, who stand out through their music as well as their strong personalities. With the icon of the Arab spring Emel Mathlouthi (Tunisia), the socially engaged singer Oum (Morocco), the first fully female Gnawa formation of Asmaa Hamzaoui (Morocco), the grande dame of the sacred songs Houria Aïchi (Algeria), the impressive singer Basma Jabr (Syria) and the Nubian cult artist Alsarah (Sudan), this year's festival is mostly female curated.

Program overview – October 14-23, 2019

Salam Orient 2019 will be opened by the charismatic duo Basma Jabr & Orwa Saleh (Syria). The two Vienna based artists bring old Arabic melodies to the present day in an extraordinary way, thus creating a "goosebump feeling" for generations across the globe. The Syrian improvisation master on the saxophone, Basel Rajoub, will join the duo. Thus, Salam Orient is opening this year’s festival with a premiere at Porgy & Bess. Also Vienna based musician and composer Mahan Mirarab (Iran) presents a very special project and moreover his new album as well as his new band at Theater Akzent. He invites the Iranian artist Mehdi Aminian, who lives in Austria since recently, to present his songs for the first time to the local audience. The "all-female" Gnawa formation Asmaa Hamzaoui & Bnat Timbouktou celebrates its debut in Austria with their trance-like rhythms from Morocco. Sacred songs from Algeria are performed by the master singer Houria Aïchi at Theater Akzent. The Sudanese singer-songwriter Alsarah describes her pop-music from Nubia as "East African retropop. Emel Mathlouthi, who gave the Arabic Spring with her song "Kelmti Horra" ("My Word is Free") its hymn, is finally in Vienna for the first time. And to top it off, Salam Orient celebrates the closure with one of the great voices of Morocco - the singer Oum, who will perform on two evenings at Porgy & Bess where she will present her new album Daba ("now").

The fringe events include school workshops and dialogue programs.

Festival Passes & Packages

Tickets are available at as well as at the respective venues. For the first time, discounted festival passes & packages will be pre-sold online through the Salam Orient website:

Festival pass - 5 concerts of your choice (Oct 14-23, 2019), €99,-

Festival package – Oum & EmelMathlouthi (Oct 22 & 23, 2019), seat €54,- / standing €46, -

Festival package – Alsarah & Oum (Oct 22 & 23, 2019), seat €53,- / standing €45,-


For 15 years, founder and artistic director Norbert Ehrlich devoted himself with Salam Orient to the fascinating cultures of the Middle East and the Arab-influenced regions worldwide. The geographical scope is very broad: art and culture from Andalusia, across the Maghreb, West and East Africa to the Middle East and Asia are in focus. From traditional to contemporary music as well as literature, art or dance were previously presented at the 2-3-week festival in Vienna.

After 15 successful, intensive and beautiful years, director Norbert Ehrlich laid the festival direction in the hands of Katrin Pröll and Martina Laab in 2017. The two new directors have been active as organizers in Austria and abroad for many years. They will continue to present a high-caliber program of classical-traditional as well as current music trends, art and culture at Salam Orient.

Cultural policy & tasks

Since the beginning, the festival Salam Orient has provided a constant contribution to cultural dialogue through art and culture. With the presentation of traditional as well as modern art and culture, with the focus on strong women and with politically and socially critical artists from the Arab world, the one-sided picture of war, terror, persecution and refugee catastrophes shall be countered. On the one hand, Salam Orient wants to create a platform for encounter and exchange, and on the other hand to present the culturally rich contribution that many people living in Austria bring from their backgrounds and original countries of origin. Salam Orient invites people to curiosity, dialogue, differentiation and mutual understanding. Every year, selected regions or cultures are the focus of attention.