Moneka Arabic Jazz


“MONEKA ARABIC JAZZ” is a project reflecting my life and journey in art from Baghdad to Toronto. It showcases melody from my homeland Iraq mixed with African groove and rhythm that I inherited from the Moneka Family. Because my journey brought me now in Toronto Canada, I am honoured to share this heritage and traditions with local Canadian musicians. Jazz and blues is the best genre to bridge my afro-arabic background and the fascinating musical diversity of torontonian performers. I often find inspiration to write songs by researching old stories from Iraq as realities of the present moment locally or internationally. Focussing on the past inspires analysis, while the future inspires visions and dreams. 

Ahmed Moneka :


During my formative years in Iraq, I learned traditional songs and drumming in a family tradition that was brought to Iraq in the 12th century. Later, I was accepted into one of Iraq’s top high schools for the performing arts where I learned a variety of artistic disciplines from theatre to singing maqam (scales and nuances) of Middle Eastern music. Through these experiences, I acquired many perspectives on our world and my place within it, and continued attending the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad. During these years, I began to be especially moved by stories of human struggle and freedom and formed my convictions about human rights through my art, my voice and my song.

Group Bios

Waleed Abdulhamid bass guitar, vocals. Waleed was born in Sudan and began performing at the age of 6. He toured across his country, as well as Egypt, Syria, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Waleed is known for bringing traditional rhythms into popular music in Sudan.  

Demetri Petsalakis – guitar, oud. From, Greece, Demetri Petsalakis performs on Greek and Middle Eastern lutes. A busy freelancer, Demetri performs with world music groups and orchestras and holds a Master of Music degree in jazz guitar and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music from York University.

Fathi Najem – electric violin, kora. Fathi began his musical journey in Algeria, learning Arabic violin. World music collaborations there introduced him to the kora which he plays in a variety of world music contexts.

Ernie Tollar – Sax, Arabic flute. has performed jazz sax internationally and also plays Raga and Maqam music from India and the Arab world.

Max Sennitt – Drum Kit. Max is one of Toronto’s most in demand drum kit players who mixes Jazz and Funk easily with traditional musics.





It all started when three talented artist made a connection playing in the woods at OM Gathering, Ontario while the mosquitos were feeding on them. After a month of jamming and playing together, the their connection grew and they became a group.

Ahmed brings his middle eastern deep soul influence, while Yura brings is Ukrainian/Balkan flavour, and Tangi brings eclectic Celtic and gypsy melodies. Download their music here.

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Ahmed Moneka, Drums/Vocal – Baghdad, Iraq
Yura Rafaluik, Cimbalom – Lviv, Ukraine
Tangi Ropars, Bouton Accordion – Brittany, France

Fethi Nadjem, Violin – Algeria