x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Ajram lights up the Madinat Jumeirah

One of the most famous songstresses of the Arab world admits she still gets butterflies in her stomach before a performance.

Nancy Ajram confessed to having nerves on Thursday night, backstage at Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah, shortly before heading out to entertain an audience of several hundred people.

"I get nervous every time," she said. "But only for a few minutes. Once I see people reacting with me, I forget everything."

Dressed in a white 1970s-inspired Yves Saint Laurent dress, the 28-year-old singer stepped on to the stage and waved as she greeted her fans in Arabic. Behind her were the letters N and A, glittering in blue and red lights.

As the crowd chanted her name, the pop star could not resist a giggle.

Ajram performed her Arabic hit songs, including Ya Salam, Loun Eyounak and Mafish Haga Tigi Kida, as fans cheered and stood on their seats to dance.

"I am a big fan," said Basma Hassan, from Egypt. "We were sitting by the back, but it was fine because the sound was good. I buy all her albums but this is my first time to watch her live."

Ajram is no stranger to Dubai, having performed in the city numerous times in the past. She often describes it as her second home to her base in Beirut.

"I love this city," she said. "Even if I don't have a concert, I come here with my family for a small vacation. I feel relaxed and comfortable here."

Ajram's father Nabil noticed her singing potential when she was just four years old. At eight, she bagged the top trophy at the Unicef children's singing competition on LBC TV. After winning the Mawaheb Zghire competition at 10, Ajram was encouraged by her father to take her music career to the next level.

It was in 1998 when Ajram's first album, Mouhtagalak, was released. She was propelled to superstardom in 2003, with the release of her third album, Ya Salam.

The year 2008 was a pivotal period for Ajram's personal and professional life. She married Dr Fadi El Hachem, with whom she has two daughters. That same year, she won the World Music Award for best-selling Middle Eastern artist, was chosen as the first female ambassador to the Mena region by Unicef and she has signed endorsement deals with global brands such as Coca-Cola, Sony Ericsson and Damas jewellery.

Ajram is set to record her eighth studio album in the coming months.