The Rough Guide to Bellydance Café (World Music Network, 2007)
This Rough guide compilation focuses on the increasingly popular raks sharki (bellydance) music. There are various regional styles in the middle East and The Rough Guide to Bellydance Café is a great introduction to discover these styles.
The Syrian ensembles use the traditional middle Eastern orchestra format, with violins, qanun and percussion. The Egyptian sound is a little rootsier, with spectacular tabla (the Egyptian hourglass drum, not the Indian drums) solos leading the way.
Belly dance acts in Turkey use wind instruments more frequently, combined with the long necked lute known as saz and the qanun.
The Rough Guide to Bellydance Café also includes Greek and Moroccan acts, although it is clear that the main centers for this kind of music are Egypt in Turkey.
One conspicuous artist that is missing is Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy. He has made dozens of recordings and had become one of the most acts outside the Middle East.