Khaleeji dance (with Khaleeji meaning ‘of the Gulf’) is a dance style typical of the Arabic peninsula and the Persian gulf including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait and parts of Iraq. This type of dance is completely different from the type of dance most commonly referred to as belly dance, which is Egyptian, Lebanese and Turkish style. An authority on this Middle Eastern dance style is Kay Hardy Campbell, a Boston based writer, dancer and musician, specialised in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia.
Dancers of Khaleeji wear a characteristic piece of clothing, called thobe nashal (a sort of long, very full and wide caftan, often richly embroidered). The thobe nashal is usually in a brilliant colour and the dancer does not wear a hip scarf or belt. Because of its shape and its ample sleeves, the thobe nashal is also used as a prop by the dancer, who holds the dress up in front of her like an apron and makes it billow whilst her pelvis undulates gently to R-L-R, L-R-L stepping patterns. Also, the wide sleeves of the thobe nashal can be held up to frame head slides or used as a veil.
Khaliji style Arabic dance involves a lot of focus on footwork, spins and a lot of movement in the torso and upper body. Also, while performing Khaleeji, dancers toss their long unbound hair from one shoulder to the other.
Khaleeji rhythm is different from the classical Middle Eastern rhythms and it is characterised by heavy rolling beats. One of the most common khaleegy rhythm, also called Saudi rhythm, is a syncopated medium speed 4/4 rhythm with heavy accents (dums) on beats 1, “2.5″, 4, with the “.5″ being the rest between the major beats in the measure.
The instruments most commonly used for Khaleeji style music are frame drums such as tars and bendirs, while the ud is used as the primary instrument.
A CD called Khaliji (by RT Productions) has been released by Naser Musa and Souhail Kaspar, two musicians specialised in Arabic music.