"Now there are a lot of people doing Arab rap who didn't feel before that they had much of a chance," said Takki of Egyptian rap stars MTM.

Youth are often bound by strict conventions set by the older generation in the Arab region, where a United Nation's Arab Human Development Report has said that "ageism" is one of several problems.

Takki was speaking on the sidelines of the first Arabian Music Awards in Dubai, where MTM won the prize for best modern Arabic act. The public vote for the rap band runs counter to media criticism of rap music as a harmful Western import.

Harmful western influence?

"The best thing about rap is that it is a form of music that criticises, so it discusses the issues of young people," he said.

"It (rap) is really close to young people because it speaks their language and it speaks about their real-life problems and social life from their point of view. We really needed this in the Arab world"

Takki,
Egyptian rap star

"It's really close to young people because it speaks their language and it speaks about their real-life problems and social life from their point of view. We really needed this in the Arab world."

Police in Egypt have arrested heavy metal fans on suspicion of "devil worshipping" in several notorious cases over the past decade.

Unlike the West, where rap bands have been around for more than a decade, the edgy music is a relatively new phenomenon in the Arab region. And so far, performers have avoided the strong language and swear-words common in American and British hits.

Strong language

Songs have mainly dealt with social issues through humour, rather than politics - a thorny issue in the largely autocratic Arab region.

MTM scored a huge hit in 2003 with a song called 'Ummi Musafra' (My Mother's Away) about a teenager who holds a dance party when his mother goes away on holiday. But in the videoclip she comes back early and crashes the proceedings.

So far, MTM is the biggest and most well-known rap group but there are a few other bands, hailing mainly from more culturally liberal countries such as Lebanon and Morocco.