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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

The sounds of summer: Seven Arabic pop releases to be excited about

From the legendary Amr Diab’s new material to the return of Lebanon’s Haifa Wehbe, we have the top Arabic tunes to listen out for

Syrian singer Assala Nasri. AFP
Syrian singer Assala Nasri. AFP

It’s not only the big western pop acts that drop their biggest releases over the summer months - the same principle applies to Arabic stars, with a slew of big names about to emerge with their latest albums. This year’s batch promises to be rich and varied, with new titles from icons, and the welcome and overdue return of a much loved star.

Here are our picks of the albums to look forward to over the next few months.

Elissa

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After dropping hints throughout the year, Lebanese singer and The Voice coach is now in full album promotion mode. Listeners got a taste of her upcoming August release, Ila Kol Elli, courtesy of her rousing new ballad Krahni. And while we are yet to hear any more songs, we do know that the 46-year-old songstress collaborated with Egyptian pop-star Ramy Gamal on a new track and enlisted a team of A-grade songwriters, including Egyptian stalwarts Munhim Ta’miah and Nader Abdallah.

Mohamed Hamaki

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The Egyptian crooner has been talking up his new album, but also keeping his new tunes close to his chest. Its release is set for next month, and yet we haven’t heard any lead singles yet. There is no denying that Hamaki’s upcoming album will be pivotal to his career: the 42-year-old artist received a massive boost courtesy of his well-received stint as coach in this year’s season of The Voice. So, with his stocks soaring high, this is indeed the time to strike with his best work yet. Speaking to The National last month, Hamaki said he is working with his usual hit-making crew, including Egyptian producers Tamer Ali and Mohamed Yahya. “The fans should appreciate it, as I worked with the same producers as well as some new names. Once all the songs are chosen I will look for the title that represents it all. That’s the last piece of the equation.”

Sherine Abdel-Wahab

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It has been five years since the much-loved Egyptian singer and actress released an album, and to describe the time in between as tumultuous would be an understatement.

From high-profile break-ups to rumours of financial ruin, bad news has dogged the 37-year-old so much that in February 2016, she made the shock announcement that she would retire from the entertainment industry. It was only after a sustained campaign from regional newspapers, not to mention the support from peers including Iraqi star Kathem Al-Saher and Tunisian singer Saber Rebai, that Abdel-Wahab changed her tune a few months later. Her welcome comeback saw her sell out shows, as well as tie the knot with fellow Egyptian singer Hossam Habib this April. Having gone through so much drama, we expect a killer new album when it’s released in the next few months.

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Read more:

Marwan Khoury on showcasing the depths of Arabic music's history

I felt I couldn’t go on, says Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab

How Tunisian artist Mahdi Baccouch found success through singing in Lebanese dialect

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Amr Diab

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The 56-year-old Egyptian superstar really has no one to compete with other than himself. That said, Diab has always approached his craft in a pleasantly old-school way. While some of his peers focus on singles to appeal to the digital streaming market, Diab takes the album format seriously – which shows in his string of well-crafted, fully formed records. The next one – title unannounced, release date speculated to be next month – features the return of Egyptian producer Nader Hamdy. The duo last worked together on Diab’s top-selling 2004 album Leily Nahary, so we expect good things.

Tamer Hosny

The Egyptian heart-throb is one of the hardest working stars in the industry. In addition to a constant stream of film and television appearances, the 40-year-old artist has also managed to spend time in the studio recording new album, Eesh Beshoa’ak, which will be released in the next few weeks. The album’s summery first single and title track is already proving to be a hit, with its video receiving more than six million views on YouTube. In addition to more crowd-pleasing hits, we can also expect surprising collaborations. However, after working with the likes of Jamaican reggae star Shaggy and American rapper Snoop Dogg in recent years, Hosny has kept it regional this time around by partnering with Algerian rai star Cheb Khaled on Wenta Ma’aya.

Assala Nasri

The 49-year-old Syrian star has been studiously working on her album this year, only venturing out of the studio for a recent tour of the Gulf that included a sold-out show at Dubai Opera last month. The lead single off the upcoming album, Kelma Adiyya, was released earlier this month and is a regal ballad that finds Nasri singing in both the Egyptian and Khaleeji dialect. The soon-to-be released album also features another musical reunion: after being absent from three Nasri albums over six years, esteemed Egyptian composer Abdel Hamed Habak is back for this work. This is good news for Nasri fans, as the experienced Habak is behind some of her best tracks of late, including 2012’s Shaghel Baly Hawak and Ana Hobak.

Haifa Wehbe

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Another pop star with something to prove: the Lebanese singer is often a lightning rod for criticism due to her suggestive lyrics and performances, and she will return to the spotlight with her first album in six years. Frankly, the fact that the album will even be released is an achievement in its own right after its production was plagued by a year’s worth of delays. But the 42-year-old singer will be heartened by how lead single Touta has been received – it has racked up more than nine million YouTube views since its April release. It’s a quintessential Wehbe single: modern production, a colourful and racy video clip and a catchy chorus that even a four-year-old can sing. We expect more of this from the album.

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