Two Arab Women Make Time’s ’10 Next Generation Leaders 2019’ List

Meet the singer and boxer who are shattering perceptions and inspiring a whole generation by being themselves

Egyptian singer Dina El Wedidi and Somali-British boxing champion Ramla Ali were chosen by Time magazine as Generational Leaders. Photo: @dina.elwedidi & @somaliboxer

by Staff Reporter

Culture 24 May 2019

Time magazine, whose online presence is huge with 45.6 million people worldwide visiting their online platforms, have dubbed two Arab women with title of Generation Leaders for the year 2019.

Egyptian singer and songwriter, Dina El Wedidi and Somali British boxer Ramla Ali have each in heir own way followed their calling, worked on their passion and dreamed big.

The result? They are helping alter perceptions of where they come from while inspiring Arabs and non-Arabs to follow what it is that they love doing.

Dina El Wedidi

Egyptian singer Dina El Wedidi is inspiring change through storytelling in her music. Photo:

If you haven heard Dina El Wedidi’s music then you’re missing out.

The singer, songwriter and composer has reinvented what contemporary Arab music means.

Melding folklore, contemporary Arab music and western influences, her sound can only be described as traditional but new, relatable yet innovative, experimental and poetic and most of all beautiful.

Dubbed as ‘Egypt’s Voice of Hope’ thanks to her vocal contribution to Khalina Nehlam (Let Us Dream) a protest song that became hugely popular during Egypt’s revolution in 2011.

It was one of the first instances that the public noticed Dina for her storytelling ability through song.

Egyptians aren’t the only ones who think Dina’s talent is worth recognizing. Not only ahs she gained popularity over the last few years across the Arab world but she has been featured on Time’s 2019 edition of ’10 Next Generation Leaders’.

WATCH: Time’s video on why Dina El Wedidi is a Next Generation Leader

Describing Dina’s music as “drawing from history to inspire change for the future” Time also brought attention to the Nile Project, a collaborative musical and environmental movement that Dina is part of.

The Nile Project consists of African artists along the Nile valley who are working together preserve the Nile’s waters for future generations, highlighting the issue to their fans and to audiences around the world.

It was this collaboration in 2012 that helped shape Dina’s sound and music evolution.

In 2014, she released her debut album, Tedawar W’Tergaa, (Turning Back) which she was when her new Arab fold sound really started to resonate with audiences.

Dina has also become known also for her experimental use of non-musical sounds in her songs, particularly trains.

Manan (Slumber) an album she released last year, has an experimental electronic feel that takes the sounds often heard on the Egyptian railway, from horns, and hawkers and layered them over one another while she sings over the track.

The end result is mesmerizing.

The recognition from Time is bound to bring more attention to Dina’s work as well as shining the light on contemporary Arab music.

LISTEN: A long clip from Dina El Wedidi’s album Slumber

Ramla Ali

Ramla Ali is set on representing Somalia in the 2020 Olympics. Photo: Charlie Hyams Instagram: @somaliboxer

Joining Dina on the list of Time’s ’10 Next Generation Leaders’ is British-Somali boxer Ramla Ali, a British champion boxer.

And believe us when we say, Ramla Ali is going somewhere.

She is the current African Zone Featherweight Champion as of 2019 and became an exclusive global Athlete for Nike.

In 2015 Ramla won the Novice national championships in England and the 2016 England Boxing Elite National Championships and The Great British Championships.

She has also helped set up Somalia’s boxing federation in Mogadishu, where she was born, and became the first boxer in history to have represented Somalia in the Women’s World Championships in India in 2018.

She’s hoping to represent Somalia in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and is shattering people’s perceptions of the sport and of woman, Arab women and Muslim women in the world of boxing and sport in general.

And, she has a law degree.

No wonder Time chose her as one of Generation Leaders for 2019.

WATCH: Time’s video on why Ramla Ali is a Next Generation Leader

Having initially got into boxing after being bullied as a teenager for being overweight, Ramla is the first Muslim woman ever to win an English boxing title.

Her story is truly inspirational when you know that Ramla and her family fled

during the Somali civil war in the early 1990s, after her older brother was killed by a stray grenade.

They ended up in London where Ramla grew up. But Ramla wants to represent her native Somalia in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If she qualifies, this will not only make her the first boxer of any gender to represent her homeland but raise Somalia’s profile in the Olympics.

Ramla’s work and ethos isn’t only about inspiration but women’s empowerment and for women to be in control of their own spaces. Ramla is extending the benefits of being a boxer to her community by running free weekly self-defense classes for women in South London.


It was also just last month in April that another Arab was honored in another Time magazine list – Time’s 100 most influential people.

Mo Salah, who plays forward for Liverpool as well as the Egypt national team where he’s hoping to bring them FIFA world cup glory is one of Europe’s top five leagues’ fifth most expensive player, and was named with only six other athletes as one of Time’s 100 most influential people.

“Mo Salah is a better human being than he is a football player. And he’s one of the best football players in the world,” wrote John Oliver, host of host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver for the Time article.

Other than being an incredibly talented football player, Mo Salah has also campaigned and spoke about women’s equality in the Middle East. In an interview with Time he said,

“I think we need to change the way we treat women in our culture. It’s not optional.”

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