Amr Diab (Egyptian Arabic: عمروْ دِياب; born October 11, 1961) is an Egyptian vocalist and writer. He has established himself as an acclaimed recording artist and author in most Mediterranean countries. According to a research by Michael Frishkopf, he has created his style termed as «Mediterranean Music», a blend of Western and Egyptian rhythms. By 1992, he became the first Egyptian and Middle Eastern artist to start making high-tech music videos.
Early life and personal life
Amr Diab was born on 11 October 1961 in Port Said, Egypt, into an artistic family. His father, Abdul Basset Diab, worked for the Suez Canal Corporation and was the chairman of Marine Construction & Shipbuilding in Suez Canal. Diab’s father played a huge role in igniting the early sparks of musical inspiration in the early stages of Diab’s professional music career. Diab, at the age of six, had his first shot at fame when he sang the Egyptian National Anthem «Bilady, Bilady, Bilady» at the annual 23 July Festival in Port Said in the presence of the late Gamal Abdel Nasser. As a result, he was rewarded with a guitar from the governor of Port Said, and began to become recognised nationally. Diab graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Arabic Music from the Cairo Academy of Arts in 1986. Amr Diab Is married to Zeina Ashour, who is from Saudi Arabia, and he has 4 children: the first one a daughter named Nour from his first marriage to the actress Shereen Reda, one son Abdallah, and two daughters Kinzy and Jana from marriage with Zeina Ashour.
Diab released his first album entitled Ya Tareeq in 1983. Diab’s second album, Ghanny Men Albak (1984), which was the first of a series of records he released with Delta Sound, including Hala Hala (1986), Khalseen (1987), Mayyal (1988), was one of the top 10 songs in the world at (1988), Shawa’na (1989), Matkhafesh (1990), Habibi (1991), Ayyamna (1992), Ya Omrena (1993), Weylomony (1994), and Rag’een (1995). In 1996 Diab released his first album with Alam El Phan entitled Nour El Ain, which proved an international success and gained Diab recognition beyond the Arabic speaking world. Diab recorded four more albums on the Alam El Phan label including Amarain (1999) which Robert Christgau wrote about it «one of the best songs in the world», Diab also collaborated with Khaled (on the song «Alby») and with Angela Dimitriou (on the song «Bahebak Aktar»).
In the summer of 2004 Diab, having left Alam El Phan, released his first album with Rotana Records, Leily Nehary, which he followed up with the hugely successful Kammel Kalamak (2005), and El Lilady (2007). September 2011 saw the release of his album Banadeek Taala, produced by Rotana. In February 2011, Amr Diab released his hit single «Masr Allet» (Egypt spoke). In 2012, Diab hosted the first Google Hangout in the Middle East during his performance in Dubai. In October 2014, Amr Diab released his album Shoft El Ayam, which topped his last album «El Leila» and again became the best selling album in Egypt in iTunes and Rotana. In July 2015, Amr Diab released the music video from his song «Gamalo» from his album Shoft El Ayam.In March 2016 he released his last and current album «Ahla w ahla» which was produced for the first time by «Nay Records», after leaving Rotana Music. His new album Maadi el Nas was released in July 2017 with «Nay Records»
Wayah (With [Her]) was released for sale on the internet on 27 June; 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.
On 18 October 2009 Amr Diab won four 2009 African Music Awards in the following categories: best artist, best album, best vocalist and best song for «Wayah»; Amr Diab had been nominated by the Big Apple Music Awards. In October 2018 he released his new album called Kol Hayaty.
Diab is known as the father of Mediterranean Music. David Cooper and Kevin Dawe refer to his music as «the new breed of Mediterranean music». According to author Michael Frishkopf, Diab has produced a new concept of Mediterranean music, especially with his international hit, «Nour El Ain».
Diab is one of the first singers to popularize music videos in the whole MENA region and is the first Egyptian singer to appear in music videos.
Diab’s fame in the music industry has led him to experiment with other forms of media, such as film. Amr played himself in his first film, El Afareet, which was released in 1989. It also starred Madiha Kamel. His second film Ice Cream in Gleam (Ays Krim fi Glym), in which Diab starred in 1992, was chosen as one of the best five Egyptian musical films by the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The film was featured in the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s new program «Music on the Nile: Fifty Years of Egyptian Musical Films» at James Bridges Theater at UCLA on 6, 8 and 10 April 1999. David Chute of the Los Angeles Weekly termed it «observant» and «a big leap». His third movie was released in 1993, and was named Deahk We La’ab (Laughter and Fun). The film premiered in the Egyptian Film Festival in 1993. Amr played alongside international Egyptian movie star Omar Sharif (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago) and Yousra. Overall, Diab did not experience the same level of success in film that he had with his music career. Since 1993, Diab has focused on his singing career.
During the 2011 uprising, some protesters criticized Diab for staying silent, and for fleeing Egypt for London. A few days after former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, Amr Diab composed and sang a memorial song, «Masr A’let» (Egypt Said), and released it in conjunction with a music video showing pictures of the martyrs who died in the uprising. He initiated a charity campaign «Masry Begad» («Truly Egyptian»), a social national program aimed at serving and rebuilding Egyptian society. His online radio station Diab FM often presents talks and discussions about what the Diab FM team can offer to the community as well as applying it practically by being present in different sites across Egypt with a new humanitarian project each week.