Amr Abdel Basset Abdel Azeez Diab (Arabic: عمرو عبد الباسط عبد العزيز دياب; born October 11, 1961) is an Egyptian singer and composer of geel music - the contemporary face of Egyptian el-geel pop music, according to World Music. Diab is the best-selling Arab recording artist of all time, according to Let's Go Egypt. He was awarded the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist four times: in 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2009. He has sold over 50 million albums worldwide. He is currently the top singer in the Arab world, and considered a living legend by many of his fans in the Arab world.
Amr Diab is also known as the Father of Mediterranean Music. He has created his own style which is often termed "Mediterranean Music" or "Mediterranean Sound", a blend of Western and Egyptian rhythms. In The Mediterranean in Music, David Cooper and Kevin Dawe referred to his music as "the new breed of Mediterranean music". According to author Michael Frishkopf, Amr Diab has produced a new concept of Mediterranean music, especially in his international hit, "Nour El Ain". In his analysis of The Very Best of Amr Diab album, Victor W. Valdivia of Allmusic said: "His music melded traditional Arabic sounds and textures with Western rhythms and instruments. The mesh was dubbed Mediterranean music, and The Very Best of Amr Diab displays Diab's superb skill in creating it."
According to the BBC, Diab "has ruled the Arab music world, especially Egypt and the Middle East, since the mid '80s, continually breaking sales records".
Amr Diab was born in Port Said, Egypt to a highly educated middle class family. His mother was a French teacher in the Lycée Français school of Port Said. Abdel Basset Diab, Amr's father, whose family immigrated from Libya, graduated from the faculty of commerce at the University of Alexandria in 1958. He joined the Suez Canal Corporation as an accountant and was promoted to top financial controller (from 1985 until 1989) for the maritime sector in the corporation. He encouraged young Diab to sing for the first time on Al-gala National Day (evacuation of British forces from the Suez Canal area and Egypt) on June 18, 1968. Diab was only six years old, and it was his first singing appearance in public. His first performance, the National Anthem "Belady, Belady", was broadcast to the Egyptian radio audience from the local broadcasting station. That day, Diab was given an award by Hassan Rushdie, the Governor of Port Said, who also awarded him a guitar as a present after that concert that same day.
In 1983, Diab released his first studio album, Ya Tareeq. Diab released three more albums between 1984 and 1987. 1988's "Mayaal" garnered huge success all around the Middle East. It was produced, arranged and remixed by German musicians, Frank Von Dem Bottlenberg and Jörg Evers, with various releases. More success followed in the following years including the albums Shawakkna, Matkhafesh, and We Yloumouni.
Amr Diab quickly developed fame for his new style of "Pan-Mediterranean" Arabic music, fusing touches of flamenco and raï with western pop with traditional Arabic rhythms. By 1992, he became the first Arabic artist to start making high-tech music videos.
"Habibi" from Diab's 1996 album, Nour El Ain became a hit worldwide, and was remixed by many of the world's top DJs at the time. A special CD named Habibi: The Remix Album was released later with all of these remixes. Since then, Diab has remained at the top of the Arabic music scene, expanding reach to all parts of the Mediterranean with his 1999 release, Amarain, that featured duets with Algeria's king of rai, Khaled, in a song called "Qalbi" and Greece's Angela Dimitriou in "Ana Bahibak Aktar" and "Eleos". "Tamally Maak" from Diab's 2000 album became a huge success. Leily Nahari, Diab's first album with Rotana Records, was released in 2004. Diab's album El Leila De was released in the summer of 2007 and topped the Arabic music charts for 22 weeks. Diab received a World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist for the album. In 2008, Diab renewed his contract with Rotana for five more years. In 2009, Diab released a new album Wayah.
Nour El Ain
In 1996, Nour El Ain (Light of The Eye – Sight) was released, becoming a tremendous success not only in the Middle East but throughout the entire world. The song was composed by Nasser el-Mizdawi, lyrics were written by Ahmed Sheta and it was arranged by Hameed Elshaery. The title track, and its English version "Habibi", was an international phenomenon, becoming a massive crossover hit in countries such as Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka (performed by Sangeeth Wickremasinghe) and Malaysia (Malay version sung by Datuk Sharifah Aini). The song was copied and remade with Malayalam lyrics, a south Indian language, in the Malayalam movie Chandralekha staring the South Indian actor Mohanlal. In a style reminiscent of the Aldo (musician) Franco-Arabic style, the song was remixed by several top European arrangers and has become a big pull on the dance floors of Europe. The video clip, also produced by Alam El Phan for the song "Nour El Ain", was one of the most lavish and expensive productions in the field of Egyptian song, and set a new standard for his contemporaries to aspire to. This album sold 3 million copies. In 1997, Amr Diab won three Awards at the Annual Arabic Festival (for Best Video, Best Song and Artist of the Year). In the following year, he received a Triple Platinum Award for the sales of Nour El Ain, and received a World Music Award in Monaco on 6 May 1998, under the patronage of H.S.H. Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and attended by Gloria Estefan, Céline Dion, Mariah Carey, The Backstreet Boys, Steven Seagal and others. This award was the first of its kind for an Egyptian artist, emphasizing that his appeal is not just confined to the Middle East unlike the majority of his contemporaries.
His follow-up studio album entitled Awedooni was released in July 1998, and as with Nour El Ain it was produced with Hamid El Shaery and recorded in Cairo, Egypt. The first video from the album, the title track "Awedooni", was shot by the river Nile in Egypt and directed by Tareq Al Aryan. Like its predecessor, this album was a huge success for Amr and reinforced his popularity in the Arab world and abroad.
His album Amarain was released in July 1999, and is hailed as the best work of his career to date. Amr has worked on eagerly anticipated duets with the France-based international Rai superstar, Khaled, and with the Greek singer, Angela Dimitrou, whose crossover smash "Marguerites" was a huge hit across the Middle East in 1998. The title track "Amarain" was the first video to be broadcast.
In 2000, Diab revolutionized Arab music when he issued Tamally Ma'ak (I'm Always With You). The song was composed by Sherif Tag, a modern Egyptian Composer. He introduced the Spanish guitar in his song "Tamally Ma'ak" and in other songs. The clip of this song was made in the Czech Republic with much success. The album contained songs like "El Allem Alla" (Only God Knows), "Ba'terf" (I Confess), "Sa'ban Alaea" (It Makes Me Feel Sorry) and "We Heya Amla Eih" (And How Was She?).
Aktar Wahed was released on August 1, 2001. The album's name is short for one of the songs, "Aktar Wahed Beyhebbak" (One loves you the most). It contains 10 tracks and received the World Music Award for the best selling album in the Middle East for 2001.
In February 2003, Diab released Allem Alby (Teach My Heart). The album's release date was arranged to be with the debut broadcast of Alam El Phan's (Allem Alby's production company, owned by Mohsen Gaber) music channel "Mazzika".
The album was a great success, with the release of the video "Ana Ayesh" (I'm Alive) which was directed by Stuart Gosling. The video was intensely broadcast on Mazzika. The album contains other songs, like the R&B-influenced hit, "Allem Albi". Others that tend to be more distinctively Arabic-sounding are songs like "Kolohom" (All of Them), "Law Ash'any" (If You Adore Me), and "Alli El Wadaa'" (Goodbye To Me).
In late summer 2004, Diab's first album with Rotana was released, titled Leily Nahary (My Nights, My Days). The album's cover was from the promotional photo shoot of Pepsi. The video "Leily Nahari" directed by Cameron Casey provided aid to give Diab his space in the record-exclusive music channels. It was criticized because of its similarity to his previously unreleased video for "El Alem Allah" from the album Tamally Ma'ak. This album sold over 1.5 million copies.
Diab's album Kammel Kalamak, released on December 14, 2005, was the follow up to Leily Nahary. The album cost a reported $4 million to record, and was Rotana's biggest album of 2005. The love ballad "We Malo" was released as the single of the album, Kammel Kalamak. The music video was shot in London and was released on a late notice after the release of the album. Rumors surfaced in late 2005 and early 2006 stated that Amr is considering terminating his contract with Rotana due to the poor promotion of his album, Kammel Kalamak.
El Leila De
The album El Leila De was originally set to be released after Ramadan 2006. However, it was pushed back several times due to Diab's repeated changes in the musical producers he was dealing with. Diab attributes the changes to the producer's lack of new and strong styles. In early 2006, Music Arranger Fahd was supposed to work on this album; however, later that year Tarek Madkour joined Amr Diab, and they started working together. On March 25, 2007, Madkour's official website announced that Amr Diab and Madkour had decided jointly to skip the collaboration on the album due to the lack of time and conflicting working schedules. Fahd and a new producer called Hasan Al Shafei are elected to produce the music in the album, which is supposed to hit the markets in July 2007. The title of the album was changed from Khaleek Ma'aya to El Leila De. The album would contain 10 tracks; AL Shafei and Fahd shared the production Al Shaei 7 songs & Fahd 3 Songs.
The album master copy was given to Rotana, Amr Diab's CD production company, on the last week of June to meet the July 7, 2007 release date he had planned earlier. Rotana, however, has delayed the release of the new CD for a couple of days for unknown reasons. The album was officially released on July 11, 2007. The album sold over 1,000,000 copies in only 5 days from the release.
On October 30, 2007, the management of the World Music Awards announced that Amr Diab was to receive an award for best selling artist in the Middle East for this album. Amr Diab received the award in the festival that was held in Monaco, Monte-Carlo, on the November 4, 2007.
2009's Wayah was released for sale on the internet on June 27; however, the album was leaked online and was downloaded illegally amid complaints of slow download speed on the official site. Diab's fans initiated a massive boycott of the sites with the illegal copies and by July 3, 2009 Wayah had sold more than 1.5 million copies in the first week. Later on Amr Diab's administration announced that the album has become the highest selling album in Diab's career. This album sold 3 million copies.
On October 18, 2009 Amr Diab won four 2009 African Music Awards in the following categories: best artist, best album, best vocalist and best song for "Wayah" and Amr Diab has been nominated by the Big Apple Music Awards.
Amr Diab has released a mini album for the first time in his career history, produced by Rotana, in July 2010. The mini album contains 1 song with 3 arrangements (Original song + Club Mix + Karaoke).