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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Carizma's Nour Aridi chats about The5 and Haga Gheir

With the Beirut-set music video already clocking a quarter-of-a-million views on YouTube over a space of the week, Carizma could be the first Arabic girl group to buck the trend.

Carizma have released their debut single Haga Gheir. L-R:Shireen Abu Saad, Rana Ahmed and Nour Aride
Carizma have released their debut single Haga Gheir. L-R:Shireen Abu Saad, Rana Ahmed and Nour Aride

For all the success and leading position females have when it comes to Arabic pop music, it seems strange that girl groups have failed to resonate in the region so far.

Consumers, and the industry in general, have stubbornly refused to accept the concept, despite repeated attempts over the years: the fact we never heard of any success story tells the sorry tale.

The Dubai-based music label Sony Music Middle East is the latest to enter the treacherous waters with their latest signing, Carizma – a trio comprised of Nour Aridi and Shireen Abu Saad from Lebanon, and Rana Ahmed from Egypt.

The group members not only hail from two citadels of the Arab entertainment industry but are close to becoming multigenerational: Carizma’s youngest member is 15-year-old Abu Saad, a full seven years the junior of the eldest Ahmed.

The group announced itself to the public recently with their debut single Haga Gheir. Composed by Salim Assaf, the track impressively marries oriental melodies with dance music elements. The lyrics are also an equal mix of romantic balladry and girl power confidence.

With the Beirut-set music video already clocking a quarter-of-a-million views on YouTube over a space of the week, Carizma could be the first Arabic girl group to buck the trend.

“I think that people want something like this now,” says Aridi, from her home in Beirut.

“It is true that there have not been any girl groups over here and I think that is because people just wanted to be stars on their own. Whenever they wanted to do music the idea was to be solo artists first, so maybe we can now change this and show there is also another way.”

That method is paved with its own pressures. The group were formed earlier this year when the members each individually took part in a regional talent search, in which they were mentored by songwriters, producers and their future tour mates, boyband The5.

For Aridi, who is studying medicine at the American University of Beirut, she joined the contest to explore her non-academic passions.

“It started off when I was a small; I was learning the violin but then I realised that I would rather sing alone to the notes than actually play the instrument,” she says.

“Since then, I started taking vocal lessons and started singing more at home and school. I was really shy at first but slowly I have become more confident, and I was ready by the time the competition arrived.”

Among the intensity of the music and performance workshops, Aridi says the group bonded over their differences. “Well at first, we all just felt confused about what was happening,” she says.

“I connected first with Shireen because she was also from Lebanon and we could understand each other. Then we met Rana, the Egyptian girl, and it took us as a while to figure out her accent. It was kind of funny. But eventually this brought us together. We sat together and got to really know each other. I think we bonded over our common point which is our love for singing.”

The group are set to learn even more about each other as they prepare to hit the road soon. In what is set to be a dream bill for young fans, Carizma will support The5 on their regional tour in November. No UAE date has yet been announced.

Aridi says that it will only be once they are onstage that the dream will become a reality.

“I think that is when it will hit me, that we will be out there in front of the fans and they will be singing along to our first song; I really can’t wait,” she says. “I am just counting the days off till we go out with The5 on tour.”

Which begs the question, how do her parents feel about her going on the road with five of the Arab world’s most adored heartthrobs?

“Oh, they have been excited since the beginning of the competition,” she says.

“They have been sharing the song with friends and she [Aridi’s mother] has been generally supportive and saying, if this is what makes me happy, then I should do it.”

But of course, there is always that age-old caveat to adhere too. “Finishing my degree is non-negotiable of course,” says Aridi, laughing.

“I am graduating next May, so I can’t wait to get it done also. The group will then have a singer and a doctor – that’s a good two-in-one.”

Haga Gheir, the debut single by Carizma, is out now

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