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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Amr Diab, the King of Arab Pop

Amr Diab

Amr Diab. Photo: Supplied

Born in Port Said on October 11, 1961, Egyptian singer, composer, and actor Amr Diab has spent much of the last three decades dominating music charts and cinema screens across the world. Known as the “father of Mediterranean music,” Diab’s combination of Egyptian motifs and Western rhythms has earned him accolades throughout his career, including seven World Music Awards and six African Music Awards, and most recently a Guinness World Record for most World Music Awards for bestselling Middle Eastern artist. Here are 10 facts about his groundbreaking career.

1. He made his first musical appearance in 1967

Diab experienced his first taste of fame at the age of six, at the July 23 Festival. Performing in his hometown of Port Said, he sang the Egyptian national anthem – a performance that captured the interest of the city’s governor, who gifted Diab a guitar. The performance also aired on radio stations across the city.

2. He briefly tried his hand at acting

The hitmaker enjoyed a short cinema career. After appearing in El Afareet (1990), Ice Cream in Gleam (1992), and Laughter, Games, Seriousness, and Love (1993), the singer returned to only
making music.

3. He uses music as a form of activism

Following the 2011 uprising in Egypt, Diab released “Masr A’let,” or “Egypt Said,” dedicated to the martyrs of the revolution. The song was followed by the inauguration of his charity campaign, Masry Begad. Meaning “truly Egyptian,” the charity raised funds for people and communities impacted by the uprising.

4. A song of his was used in Malcolm in the Middle

Often touted as the song responsible for gaining Diab recognition outside the Arab world, the 1996 single “Nour El Ain” made an appearance in a season four episode of Malcolm in the Middle in 2000.

5. He created modern Mediterranean music

As inspired by the orchestral richness of Egyptian music as he is the upbeat rhythm
of Spanish flamenco, Diab is often credited with having created the Mediterranean music genre. A cultural exchange between East and West, the style can be best appreciated in tracks such as “Ashouf Aynayki” and “Hala Hala.”

6. He loves interacting with his fans

A celebrated live performer, Diab often challenges the cultural practice that stations Arab popstars behind their mics and lyric sheets for the entirety of their performance. Instead, the singer is known to complement his performances with movement and dancing.

7. He is the only Arabic-singing performer to top the Billboard World Albums Chart

Having previously reached the Billboard Top 10, Diab made it to the number one spot in 2014 with Shoft El Ayam, becoming the first Arabic-singing artist to top an international chart.

8. He has released 35 albums

After the release of his first album, Ya Tareeq, in 1983, Diab went on to release 35 studio albums. His latest album, Sahran, was released earlier this year.

9. He has a degree in Arabic music

Shortly after the release of his first two albums, Diab graduated from the Cairo Academy of Arts with a bachelor’s degree in Arabic music.

10. He holds a Guinness World Record

Soon after winning seven World Music Awards, four of which for bestselling Middle Eastern artist, Diab received the Guinness World Record title for most World Music Awards for bestselling Middle Eastern artist.

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Originally Published in the Fall/Winter 2020 Issue of Vogue Man Arabia

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