Sahera: The First Qatari Pop Princess

emilytreadgold #1, Features

As the first-ever pop singer from Qatar, this artist hopes to pave the way for the next generation of Arab diaspora artists. Meet Sahera.

Growing up in Southern California, the independent singer-songwriter has carved a unique path in music by blending her LA roots with her Arab heritage. Sprinkling in a bit of 2000s pop with some classic R&B melodies and Arab-infused production, Sahera has already established a lane of her own — and she’s just getting started.

The first taste of stardom came from Sahera’s 2023 track titled “Khaleeji,” which found its way to #3 on the Saudi Arabian charts last year. The song is wildly fun, enormously catchy, and feels like an instant classic on first listen. Across the Arabian Gulf, many people have expressed their appreciation for the representation that the track brings to their part of the world.

The “new girl in town,” as Sahera describes herself in “That’s Right,” has strikingly beautiful vocals built for ethereal pop perfection — but don’t be fooled. This multifaceted artist can also flow on a rap beat or an epic R&B track. Her versatility is like no other, and it’s astounding to hear her showcase this range with just one album under her belt.

While songs like “Bedouin Baddie” or “Duh” introduce listeners to the playful rap persona and dance-inducing atmosphere of Sahera, other tracks like “Wild Horses” or “Waterfalls” are instrumentally glamorous and feature a more emotional, vulnerable, and vocally powerful side of her artistry. Whether one wants to shake some ass before a night out or stare dramatically out their car window, Sahera’s self-titled debut album has multiple songs for you.

The New Nine chatted with Sahera about some of the tracks from her self-titled debut album, representing Qatar as the country’s first pop singer, blending her LA roots with her Arab heritage, and all things Erewhon and Lana Del Rey. Keep reading for the full interview!

Hi Sahera, thank you so much for chatting with me today! Congratulations on the release of your brand-new single, “Mirage”! How has life been since releasing the song?

Sahera: It’s been fun! I’m really excited to release my album, and this was just a little appetizer that I wanted to drop before then. I love the visuals that I put in the music video, so that was mostly the best part about making that song. With creating the vibes behind it, I love making music videos for my songs! It was really fun.

Could you describe “Mirage” and what the song personally means to you?

Sahera: “Mirage” is about loving somebody, but you realize that they don’t really love you back. The first lyrics in that song are, “I was lost in the desert when you caught my eye / You said ‘I love you forever,’ but that was a lie.” It’s basically alluding to the fact that this love is like a mirage, and it’s all in my mind. I’m in the desert, I’m thirsty for love, and it’s hard to find good people out here. I’m grasping for whatever, but it’s really just in my mind. It’s in Arabic and English as well, so I have some lyrics that reflect that same energy in Arabic as well.

You’re the first Qatari pop artist, and you’re helping trailblaze a path for a new generation of Arab diaspora artists. How exciting has it been to represent your Qatari and Arab heritage through your music and artistry so far?

Sahera: It’s been fun! I was making music before I released my single “Khaleeji,” which did really well! It got #3 in Saudi Arabia, and I thought that was insane. I’m a new independent artist, and I don’t have any manager or label or whatever. I thought that was so cool. That was the first song that I made including some Arabic in my music, and it did really well. It was so cool to see that in Saudi Arabia. They really were vibing with it. The music scene over there is so new. Qatar, it’s still starting out, and I’m hoping that it gets to Saudi’s level. They’re really going hard with their music over there. It’s really nice being the first Qatari pop artist. I think it’s really fun to explore fusing Arabic and English together, part of my culture here and there. It’s just really fun!

Being an Arab and Qatari artist, have you found jumpstarting your career to be more challenging? Or do you think living in Los Angeles has given you the freedom to fully express your artistry and culture?

Sahera: I go back and forth. When I’m in LA, I want to make music a certain way, dress a certain way, or feel a certain way. Then, when I’m in Qatar, my mind totally changes. I want to be totally different. I have these two sides of myself, and I try to find the balance all the time. I’m going back to Qatar in two weeks, so I’ll probably be changing it up again [laughs]! There’s so much influence from LA, growing up here, that I’ve gotten musically. My whole soul and personality, everything, comes from growing up in LA. There’s so much beauty in Qatar that’s influenced me as well: the culture there, the music, just everything. They’re two very, very different cultures, so it’s hard sometimes, but I ultimately love it. I think it’s really unique of a blend to be American and Qatari, especially from Los Angeles. It’s such a crazy place here, and it inspires you creatively. It makes you want to pursue something different and be different. You don’t really find that in most places in the world, so I really do appreciate having grown up in LA.

Your biggest hit, “Khaleeji,” is genuinely such a banger. I love it so much. Where did the inspiration behind that song come from?

Sahera: It was just my life. That was it [laughs]! In the music, it’s saying: “I be Khaleeji / Qatari queenie / Live in LA and I'm speaking Inglesi.” Inglesi is English, so it’s basically saying I’m both. I’m in LA, I’m Qatari, I speak English… it’s just fusing. In the music video, which a lot of people liked, we were just skateboarding in Beverly Hills. We were in the desert and then on horses. It was such a vibe, and it was so fun to make that! I feel like people, they get it. At least in Saudi, they get it and think it’s cool. There’s a lot of new music and talent that’s emerging from the Arabian Gulf, and it’s going to be a great next 10 years – or even sooner, I swear! It’s really picking up over there, and it’s exciting.

There are so many people in the comments section of the “Khaleeji” music video who are extremely excited about the representation that the song brings to Arab Americans and Arabs in general. One person from Kuwait wrote, “I never thought I'd listen to an English song about our little Gulf,” and another person wrote, “Yay, finally a Qatari song that I feel related to! So pleased.” Someone else said the song made them feel proud to be a Gulf woman. What has it been like getting to see everyone’s positive reactions to not only “Khaleeji,” but also your overall artistry and representation of Qatar in general?

Sahera: It’s crazy! It’s cool! It’s really cool. It makes me happy for the future of music in the Gulf as well. In Qatar, it’s such a new country. My grandpa was in the tent and in the desert. There was nothing. They were diving for pearls, they had their camels, and it was a very simple, simple life. If you look at Qatar now, it’s just crazy and industrialized. It’s a big city. They just had FIFA there, and it was amazing to see the whole world in tiny little Qatar in 2022. I was like, “Oh my god, this is so crazy! This is so cool!” I feel like a lot of people are starting to recognize how iconic the Gulf is, and I love that people feel represented. I love that people want to see more of this style of music. They’re loving the vibes, and it’s really cool!

Another fan favorite is “Habibti”! It’s just so smooth and such a vibe. I have to talk about the bedroom in the music video, though, because is that your actual bedroom? It’s so cute!

Sahera: I wish! I wish it was! Unfortunately, the girl who made it – she was in West Hollywood – had to take it down and move it to Texas, I believe, because her lease was up or something. When we filmed it, that was the last day she had it up! I had just gotten back from a trip and was like, “Please, we need to film here! This is so cool!” They were painting the house. You can kind of see it in the music video that the house is being painted and taken down [laughs], but it was so funny, so cool, and beautiful. It just encapsulated the vibes of “Habibti.” When I made “Habibti,” I wanted to make a 2000s Arabian princess vibe. That room, and really the whole music video, was the vibe. My friend, he was just holding the speaker like a rom-com. It was so cute.

Out of all the songs you’ve released so far, which one would you say is your personal favorite if you had to choose?

Sahera: “Habibti”! I love “Habibti”! I have a lot more songs on the album and in the future for this year that are kind of on the same vibe as that. It’s sexy R&B, Arabian princess, 2000s. I love that style of music, and I love R&B and rap. I love that type of style. I’m from LA, so of course I’m going to love that! Fusing it with Arabic is just such a nice blend. It just sounds so good and beautiful and flowy. I just love it, so I’m going to do a lot more of that in the future.

You’re an LA girlie, so I selfishly have to ask if you have any restaurant recommendations for our fellow Los Angeles residents reading this article.

Sahera: I am a devout vegan, so I have quite a few places – but I don’t know if you’ll like them. They’re very health-conscious places… but I have to say Erewhon. I go to Erewhon almost every day, whether it's for groceries or just for a latte. Their hot bar, I get that for dinner most nights if I’m too busy to cook or whatever. It’s the best. Erewhon is, like, my everything. I love Erewhon [laughs].

Have you tried the Winnie Harlow smoothie from Erewhon?

Sahera: I haven’t! I’m not really into smoothies that much. I’m not a big smoothie girl. I kind of make them at home sometimes, like an açaí bowl. Going out in places – especially theirs – I’m just like, “There’s so much in it!” I don’t know if my body can handle it, so I pass. [The Grove Erewhon] was my OG spot, but now I go to the Palisades one because I’m near Malibu. I love it. It’s the most LA place ever, but it’s so good and all organic.

Now, I can’t help but notice that in several of your Instagram posts, I’ve spotted some iconic Lana Del Rey lyrics. I’ve seen some shoutouts to “Radio,” “West Coast,” “The Grants,” etc. What is your all-time favorite Lana song if you had to choose?

Sahera: Oh my god, I have too many! “Guns and Roses.” Oh my god, I love “Guns and Roses.” “Florida Kilos.” I lived in Florida for five years, and I love “Florida Kilos.” I would play that all the time. It’s just such a vibe, all of her music. She is the realest poet that we’ve really seen. I admire her work so much. She’s just a genius. When I listen to music, I really do listen to the lyrics first. I don’t care how catchy it is, and that’s what I try to put in my work: really telling a story. Everytime you listen to her music, it’s a story! You feel it, and you feel like you’re there. She paints a picture perfectly, and I love that. I love storytelling through music like that. When I hear catchy songs, I’m like, “Okay, yeah, whatever!” But I don’t feel anything deep down in my soul. When I listen to Lana’s music, it’s an experience. I feel like a lot of people can relate to that feeling. If you saw the Coachella videos last week… she’s amazing. She’s one of my favorite artists ever, and I look up to her for writing a lot. I think with a lot of new artists, it’s easy to just make a catchy TikTok song nowadays and just have empty lyrics – which is fine! Do you! But I love a story. I just love telling a story, and I love lyrics and poetry and all that stuff. She’s my favorite. That’s why I quote her a lot on Instagram [laughs]. Her and Kali Uchis, I love them. They’re my two favorite people here. I love listening to their old music. I love finding an artist that I love and just going to their first album ever and playing it through. When you first start off as a musician, the first album you make really tells who you are and what you’re going through at that moment. It’s just beautiful. I love listening to Kali’s old albums, Lana’s old albums. The new stuff is great too, but something about the early stuff is so good. Even The Weeknd. I love The Weeknd’s old albums. It’s always an experience when you listen to somebody’s first album. I’m excited for my first album… one day when I’m like 80 years old, I’ll be like, “Oh, that’s what I was feeling!”

At the time of this interview, it is Arab American Heritage Month! In celebration of that, who are some of your favorite Arab music artists that you think deserve more streams and more appreciation for their artistry?

Sahera: Well, I have new ones and older ones! I’ll start with the old ones I love. I love Haifa Wehbe, I love Nancy Ajram, I love Sherine. There’s this one Y2K band called 4 Cats, and I just think it’s so cute and vibey. I love those early 2000s, girly, Arabian princess songs. “Habibti,” that’s my type of style, and I love how they executed that. In Lebanon, they did it, and Egypt. They had really baddie girls coming out in the 2000s. They had the best music. I love it. For the new people, I love everybody going on right now. There’s so many new Arabs making music. Saint Levant, he just did his Coachella show, and I thought his performance was so good! I wish more people had taken that approach to speak on what’s going on in the world. I just thought that was so cool. There’s this other guy, Bayou, and we’re friends on Instagram. He talks a lot about making 2000s music and R&B. I like artists who do R&B and stuff like that. I really want to find some rappers from Egypt or something, and they can do a feature! I love Arabic rap and think it’s so cool. I love the new Arabic artists right now, and I think they’re really doing a great job. It’s unique and so cool.

What can you tell fans about what’s to come from Sahera for the rest of 2024?

Sahera: A lot of cool, unique, crazy stuff. I have a lot of new songs coming out this year: the album, and then I have three singles that I’m going to drop throughout the summer. They’re really cool, and they’re similar to the vibes of “Khaleeji” and “Habibti.” They have a lot of Qatari influence and a lot of LA influence. They’re very fun, they’re crazy, and I love them! The music videos are going to be really fun!

Keep up with Sahera on Instagram and Spotify.


Hi, my name’s Austin! I’m a 6’3” iced coffee addict who’s obsessed with reality TV, pop music (Lorde’s the best), Taco Bell, shopping, writing, etc. I currently live in Hollywood and am loving the vibes. You can follow me on Instagram (@austinashburn4) or Twitter (@AustinJAshburn) to stay updated on all my terrible music opinions!

Facebook Facebook