2011, Not Year of the Arab Celebrity

Published December 18th, 2011 - 10:30 GMT

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Lebanese survivors: Elissa put out no new work, but did OK on her 2 year-old album. Who Do You Believe In? is still topping
charts. Carole Samaha's, The Sky’s the Limit, is still going strong. Nancy surfed on 2009's success; Haifa 'survived' fine 
despite her conflict with Rotana. Nawal al Zughbe's last album delivered disappointing ratings.
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Image 1 of 12: Lebanese survivors: Elissa put out no new work, but did OK on her 2 year-old album. Who Do You Believe In? is still topping charts. Carole Samaha's, The Sky’s the Limit, is still going strong. Nancy surfed on 2009's success; Haifa 'survived' fine despite her conflict with Rotana. Nawal al Zughbe's last album delivered disappointing ratings.

Egypt: Khalid Ajaj made an untimely comeback, clashing with the Revolution. Ali Hajar released a 'revolutionary' but failed, ill-promoted hit. Baha Sultan succeeded with What’s Wrong? Tamer Husny followed suit but did not fare well; Amr Diab rocked 
the market with I'm Calling You, early Revolution. Amal Maher scored big with 'How Would I Know'.
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Image 1 of 12: Egypt: Khalid Ajaj made an untimely comeback, clashing with the Revolution. Ali Hajar released a 'revolutionary' but failed, ill-promoted hit. Baha Sultan succeeded with What’s Wrong? Tamer Husny followed suit but did not fare well; Amr Diab rocked the market with I'm Calling You, early Revolution. Amal Maher scored big with 'How Would I Know'.

Mothers: Some became mothers for the 1st time, others repeat-mothers, in this year of celebrity motherhood: 1st-timers include 
Hind Sabri with baby Ali, from her businessman husband; May Saleem had a honey-moon baby by tycoon Ali Rifaree; After 
4 years marriage, Sireen Abdelnour bore a girl Talia, while Pascal Misha'alani produced boy Ely.
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Image 1 of 12: Mothers: Some became mothers for the 1st time, others repeat-mothers, in this year of celebrity motherhood: 1st-timers include Hind Sabri with baby Ali, from her businessman husband; May Saleem had a honey-moon baby by tycoon Ali Rifaree; After 4 years marriage, Sireen Abdelnour bore a girl Talia, while Pascal Misha'alani produced boy Ely.

Others had second or multiple children. Asalah Nasri had twin boys from 2nd husband, film director Tarek AlArian, naming them
Ali & Adam. Nelly Karim had her fourth child, Kinda. Yasmine Abdul Aziz became a second timer with a boy,
Saif al-deen. Nancy Ajram followed up her first girl Meela with a second baby girl, Ella.
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Image 1 of 12: Others had second or multiple children. Asalah Nasri had twin boys from 2nd husband, film director Tarek AlArian, naming them Ali & Adam. Nelly Karim had her fourth child, Kinda. Yasmine Abdul Aziz became a second timer with a boy, Saif al-deen. Nancy Ajram followed up her first girl Meela with a second baby girl, Ella.

Hospitalizations: Muhamad Hamaqy, newlywed, had 3 heart attacks. Karim Abdulaziz suffered a full 8
strokes to the lungs. Saeed Saleh, after a brain stroke, was rumored dead. Not the only phantom celeb death, 
Sabah fell foul of a fatal rumor. George Wassouf slipped into a coma after a stroke; Muhamad Abdo, 'the Arabian Star', had a brain stroke.
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Image 1 of 12: Hospitalizations: Muhamad Hamaqy, newlywed, had 3 heart attacks. Karim Abdulaziz suffered a full 8 strokes to the lungs. Saeed Saleh, after a brain stroke, was rumored dead. Not the only phantom celeb death, Sabah fell foul of a fatal rumor. George Wassouf slipped into a coma after a stroke; Muhamad Abdo, 'the Arabian Star', had a brain stroke.

Scandals: Razanne Maghrabi scandalized Lebanon with her lewd video that showed her behaving badly. Omar Sharif's slap-shocker as he struck a journalist; 'Qamar' sued Jamal Marwan, 'Melody's' Chief, and got acquitted, as mother of his baby, from his subsequent reprisal. 
Ahmad il Saqa was accused of stealing lands belonging to the Egyptian State.
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Image 1 of 12: Scandals: Razanne Maghrabi scandalized Lebanon with her lewd video that showed her behaving badly. Omar Sharif's slap-shocker as he struck a journalist; 'Qamar' sued Jamal Marwan, 'Melody's' Chief, and got acquitted, as mother of his baby, from his subsequent reprisal. Ahmad il Saqa was accused of stealing lands belonging to the Egyptian State.

Hassan Dakak, more known as Abu Basheer from epic Syrian soap drama hit, 'Bab
 il Haara', (Gate to the neighborhood) died at the middle age of 56 from a heart attack.
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Image 1 of 12: Hassan Dakak, more known as Abu Basheer from epic Syrian soap drama hit, 'Bab il Haara', (Gate to the neighborhood) died at the middle age of 56 from a heart attack.

Egyptian actor legend Omar al Harriri  died at 85, having not before having seen his country dramatically transform.
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Image 1 of 12: Egyptian actor legend Omar al Harriri died at 85, having not before having seen his country dramatically transform.

The daughter of Hani Shaker the Egyptian singer, died after a battle with cancer. Rumors emerged that he would quit singing in his paternal grief.
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Image 1 of 12: The daughter of Hani Shaker the Egyptian singer, died after a battle with cancer. Rumors emerged that he would quit singing in his paternal grief.

Amer Mounib the Egyptian singer-actor succumbed to colon cancer aged 48. Amer is the grandson of Marrie Mounib 
(famous comedian of the 50s to 60s era who played supporting roles). His friends and fellow artists were shocked at his demise.
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Image 1 of 12: Amer Mounib the Egyptian singer-actor succumbed to colon cancer aged 48. Amer is the grandson of Marrie Mounib (famous comedian of the 50s to 60s era who played supporting roles). His friends and fellow artists were shocked at his demise.

Ayman Zidane the beloved Syrian actor, lost his son Nawar of just 19 to cancer. He was the youngest of two siblings.
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Image 1 of 12: Ayman Zidane the beloved Syrian actor, lost his son Nawar of just 19 to cancer. He was the youngest of two siblings.

Hasan al Asmar died of a heart attack. This Egyptian popular folk singer was a big hit in the 1980s and 1990s.
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Image 1 of 12: Hasan al Asmar died of a heart attack. This Egyptian popular folk singer was a big hit in the 1980s and 1990s.

2011 was a bad year for Arabic celebrities. Arab Revolutions stole the thunder – and made a lot of noise - as revolution news merged with entertainment, as it were. Notably entertainment-worthy, were flamboyant leaders astonishing us with their theatrical speeches and spoofed speech-songs like the unforgettable, ‘Zenga-Zenga’. Gaddafi’s superstar hit, courtesy of inventive Israeli DJ who didn’t miss an opportunity to spread the Revolution on YouTube, captured the Arab and Western world’s attention, and moved the real entertainers – musical artists and actors of the region- to the side-line.

As for the entertainers’ bread and butter for 2011, their songs and films and soaps, there was a distinct lull in the industry and business slowed to a standstill. The music and film that was hitting the radio and satellite waves this year was either pre-revolution released or else experimental- new material that risked being buried or ignored during this underfunded under subscribed entertainment season.

Some stars even fell into a deep sleep during 2011, hardly a year to sleep through. Blink and you might miss a revolution or a fallen leader! After a stroke to the brain George Wassouf fell into a critical coma. His family and friends transferred him to AUB hospital in Beirut, where he has since been recovering and going from strength to strength. Fortunately for business and the fans, he had recorded an album just before he went out of action, and so we are due to be treated with a Christmas release.

Often, a pattern that did the trick for most artists, was surviving on their most recent work churned out pre-revolution that was still flooding the charts. For quite a few, their album of two years was still doing well, affording the artists a Revolution year off.

Since production companies and marketing outfits could not dedicate the resources they would, contingencies were relied on. Other artists attempted to exploit or profit from the revolution madness by dedicating songs and such to the headlines. This proved experimental and success depended on the level of promotion.

Egypt's "Jan 25" Revolution (that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak) impacted all releases, incurring delays, hitches and hampering productivity. Some artists delayed releases, some went ahead and released revolution songs.

Tamer Husni followed others’ successful example swith ‘What's Round the Corner's Better’ but flopped. In his case, he may have alienated fans with his political stand during his country’s Revolution.

It is also hard to say with Egypt, as many stars made a comeback after an absence, missing the spotlight and did well in personal sales some out of revolution some not.

Bittersweet

Here is a round up of the celebrity highlights, and lowlights, of 2011 which was a bizarre year of misfortune for many. Scandals, hospitalizations and deaths marred what was a joyful year of motherhood or successful comebacks with record sales for others.

2011 was the year the political news stole the limelight from the Arab World's celebrities and stars. Revolutions were the fodder for the people's entertainment, where once the pop songs and soap operas had been their daily bread. A highlight of the year's drama for the  celebrity camp, in a star-studded line-up.

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