Egyptian singer, Amr Diab, is a superstar of epic proportions in the Arab world. His prolific recording career took off in the mid 80's and throughout the 90's he set the standard (and raised the bar) for Arabic sales records. His fan base is increasingly international, mainly due to his masterful combination of western and Arabic rhythms. Now in his forties, he shows no signs of letting up. Each Amr Diab release in this, the first decade of the 21st century, is eagerly anticipated and wildly acclaimed.
In 1961 Amr Diab is born in Port Said, Egypt on October 11th (Wednesday 1 Jumaada Al-Awwal 1381 A.H.). His father, Abdul Basset Diab, worked for the Suez Canal Corporation as Chairman of Marine Construction & Shipbuilding. Abdul himself had a fine singing voice and is credited for encouraging his son to sing
In 1967 Amr joins the school band in the Port Said Laissait, his primary school. On July 23rd, he makes his first official school appearance at the Festival at Port Said where he visits the local broadcasting station and sings Biladi Biladi (Egypt's national anthem) on Egyptian Radio. For his efforts, he wins a guitar and receives recognition from the Governor of Port Said.
In 1981 Amr is "approved" (accepted as a professional) by Egyptian Radio and Television.
In 1982 Amr arrives in Cairo (direct from Port Said) and enrolls in the High-College for Arabic Music.
In 1983 Amr records his very first song, El Zaman, (lyrics by Hani Zaki, music by Hani Shnouda) but the recording is a failure.
In 1985 Diab graduates from Cairo Academy of Art. Ya Tareek is released, Diab's very first album. Diab's 2nd album, Ganny Men Albak, is also released in 1985.
In 1986 Hala Hala is released and its title track becomes a hit.
In 1987 The album Asef La Yougad Hal Akhar is released and is followed up by the release of Khalseen. The latter proves to be a major hit which establishes Amr as an up-and-coming star.
In 1988 Mayyal is released. In August, Amr marks his cinematic debut with the release of the movie, El Saginatean, (Two Prisoners) where he stars with Elham Shaheen and Youssef Shaaban.
In 1989 Shawa'na is released, arranged by Hamid El Shaery who will prove to play a significant role in the coming years.
In 1990 Amr represents Egypt at the 5th Tournament of African Sports and sings in Arabic, English and French during a concert televised by satellite throughout the Arab world and highlighted on CNN. Amr's 2nd movie, El Aafareet, is released with a cast including Madhat Kamel and Naaema El Sagheer.
In 1991 Matkhafeesh is released; the accompanying video clip is filmed inside Amr's Cairo home and features ex-wife Sherin Rida (mother of his daughter, Nour). He is purportedly the first Arab artist to make a video clip. In North America, Amr becomes the first young Arabic singer to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC (the only other Arabic artists ever invited were Fairouz and Wadei Al Safy). It is reported that Diab was interviewed at a Washington TV station for four hours. Habibi Album is released as well later that year.
In 1992 Ayyamna is released, wholly arranged by Hamid and including the hit, El Mady. The movie, Ice Cream Fe Gleem, is released and stars Diab alongside a cast that includes such talents as Simon, Ezzat Abo Ouf, Hossam Hosny, Ashraf Abdel Ba'ei, Gihan Fadel, Hussain El Emam and Alaa Waly-El Din. The movie's soundtrack is also released in 1992, the most popular songs proving to be Raseef Nemra Khamsa and Hatmarrad Alwad' Elhali. Amr is selected to sing the central song (Bel Hob Etgamaana) at the Fifth Olympic African Tournament. This year, he also co-produces the song Ainy for Egyptian singer, Simon (he won't produce again until 2001 with Wala Ala Balo).
In 1993 Ya Omrena is released. The track, Kan Andak Ha', proves very popular as does the accompanying video clip shot against a scenic mountain backdrop. Amr plays opposite Omar Sharif in the movie, Dehk We La'ab (Laughter & Fun) which opens in 1993 at the Egyptian Film Festival.
In 1994 Weylomony is released, debuting Amr's incorporation of Spanish guitar.
In 1995 the video clip accompanying the release of Rageen is much-hyped for its combination of both B&W and color camera work. Zekrayat is also released.
In 1996 Nour El Ain is released mid-year and is a huge success both in the Middle East and internationally. In fact, it becomes the best selling album ever released by an Arabic artist. The accompanying video clip (produced by Alam El Phan, as was the CD) is a lavish, expensive production.
In 1997 Habibi - The Remix Album is released and is wildly popular on dance floors throughout Europe. Diab wins three awards (Best Video, Best Song, Artist of the Year) at the Annual Arabic Festival.
In 1998 the studio album, Awedony, is released in July, the title track video clip having been shot on the banks of the Nile in Upper Egypt. The CD is another huge success. On May 6, Amr is honored at Monaco's World Music Awards as the 1998 "World's Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist", hardly surprising given that since its release Nour El Ain has gone triple platinum. Diab reportedly donates monies raised by the awards ceremony towards establishing a hospital in Cairo's Muqattam district.
In 1999 The Best Of Amr Diab is released early in the year. It includes Ana Mahama Kbert Soghayyar, a tribute to such influential legends as Abdel El Halim and Omm Kalthom. A spectacular video is shot to accompany this song. On July 28th, Amarain is released and includes duets with Algerian Rai superstar, Khaled, and Greek Diva, Angela Dimitrou. The title track is released as a video and the song itself is heard constantly and continually throughout Egypt for months on end. Amr tours North America from mid-September to mid-October and is well-received in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, Detroit, Houston and Washington. On December 4th the Diab family expands by two when twins Kenzy and Abdullah are born in Washington DC.
In 2000 Tamally Maak (Always With You) is released on 17 July and is an instant best-seller in Egypt.
In 2001 El Quds De Ardena (music video filmed inside the Occupied Territories) takes Best Video at the Arabic Video Clip Festival in Alexandria. Amr's producers, Alam El Phan, are awarded Best Clip Production, and Sherif Sabry (El Quds' director) takes Best Clip Director. This same month Amr is also busy shooting the Wala Ala Balo video. Five thousand fans in El Rehab City get a preview of Aktar Wahed when Amr performs the title track to celebrate the city's Phase III completion. Also in July, Amr's wife, Zinah Ashour, gives birth to a baby girl (Amr's 3rd daughter and 4th child) and they name her Karma. On August 01, following much delay and some controversy, Aktar Wahed is released. The following day, Amr performs in Cairo but the Pepsi-hosted concert is a bit of a fiasco and cut short when the 40,000 fans get overexcited. Amr tours in Lebanon and Syria, returning to Egypt for an August 10th concert on the north coast (attended by some 30,000) and a Fantasyland concert on August 28th (both very successful). Also in August, Amr purchases a new multi-million pound home in Beirut and takes a short European holiday with his family (France, Spain or both). In the autumn, a kidney stone attack results in a brief hospitalization but Amr's quickly back in the recording studio (laying down tracks for the summer 2002 release) and making preparations for the filming of a movie.
In 2002 an active schedule sees Amr taking to the stage in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Kuwait. On 06 March, he wins his second World Music Award (Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist), also performing at this prestigious European event.
In 2003 Allem Alby is released in February followed by a Gulf tour that includes the Dubai Shopping Festival, Oman, and Hala February. In May he performs at the AUC and also signs with Rotana. July sees concerts in Sharm and Jerash (Jordan), August at Marina (North Coast) and in Damascus (Sheraton). Rumors circulate of heart attacks and battles with Mohsen Gaber. September - MobiNil concert. In October Amr participates in a Cairo Stadium charity event (proceeds to Hospital 57357).
In 2004 Amr's Rotana contract takes effect 01 January. The following month is as busy as ever with appearances at Dubai Nights and Hala Feb (Kuwait). April sees the release of a gladiator- themed Pepsi commercial also featuring Britney Spears, Beyonce and Pink. An April Country Club Concert (Alex) is enthusiastically hailed by fans. In May Amr takes 3 important awards at the controversial first annual Arabian Music Awards held in Dubai. 07 July Leily Nahary is released and is an instant best-seller.
RAR PASS: MR-BOLICA