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Powered by, one of the most popular daily English language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Built to last

05/04/2009 05:12 PM

Ragheb Alameh has stood the test of time and forged a path for the Arabic pop genre.

When Lebanese singer Ragheb Alameh made his first appearance 25 years ago, few were optimistic about the future of Arabic pop. Not many expected the fad to last, but surprisingly, it did.

And so did Alameh, unlike many others.

"It is God's grace, the blessings of my parents and my passion for what I do," Alameh, dubbed the Arab Superstar, told tabloid! in an exclusive interview.

But these are not the only reasons behind Alameh's success. "I also have a vision, my own character, a strong presence when I perform, and good management by my brother Khodr [Alameh]. All these factors attributed to my success and made me who I am today" he said.

But things change with time, so how will Alameh's maintain his well-established success? "I'm planning to sing for another eight to ten years, and then, perhaps I'll pursue a political career," he said.

So, he is a superstar, family man and possibly a politician. That may be overwhelming for many people, but not for Alameh, who still finds time in his busy schedule for his family. "Family time is sacred. My wife and I work very hard, but we have many hours in the day, and we use them well.

"Our children come home from school at 4pm, and we have all day until then to do our work, but when they get home and until they go to sleep at around 8 or 9pm, it is all family time.

"We do everything together, and we will not sacrifice this time for anything. The weekends are also family time, and we always go out and do fun things together.

"Occasionally, our children ditch us because they have their own plans, and this is fine because they grow up and things change," he said.

"I'm a naughty boy," Alameh said with a big smile. "And my two boys, Khalid, 11, and Louay, 8 and a half, are naughty boys too. They look a lot like me, and they have the same nature, so it is like three of us men at home against my wife."

Alameh's children are not the only ones growing up. His fans, who have followed him since the 1980's, are also older now. But that doesn't affect the singer, because his fans grew up with his music and new people join the fan club every day.

"I see mothers and their daughters at my concerts. I hear three-year-old children sing my songs, so I know that some of the people who attended my concerts 25 years ago still attend them now, but they bring their children along as well," Alameh said.

Age doesn't worry the star yet, but if the need arises, things can be fixed. When asked about cosmetic surgery, Alameh said he does not like it when people play with their looks, but plastic surgery can be used to fix any feature that doesn't look right.

"I haven't reached that stage yet, but if someone has too many wrinkles or excessive weight or hair loss, why not have surgery or hair implants to make them look and feel better? I don't see why not."

"Why do we use technology for many things but won't use it to improve our bodies?"

Alameh On his wife

Ragheb Alameh cannot hide his pride in his wife, Jihan. "My wife is a great woman. She deserves the best. I realised she had talent and I gave her my full support to spare her the hassle of being torn between her responsibilities at home, as a wife and mother, and her business on the other side," Alameh said. "Jihan, a talented jewellery designer, now dresses queens, princesses, first ladies and stars. They all wear her jewellery. And not just that, but her collection is now displayed for sale on-board Middle East Airlines flights (the official carrier of Lebanon). She is very successful," he added.

Adorning the windows to the soul

Ragheb Alameh is the ambassador for Persol. He said he always used the Italian sunglasses, even before his agreement with the brand. He shot the video of one of his songs in Italy, which was one of the reasons behind his selection to represent the brand. Alameh is also the ambassador of Qatar Pearl, a development project, and of Tourism Malaysia.

Coming attractions

Alameh's fans shouldn't hold their breath for new material. His new album will only be released next year and his first scheduled performance in the UAE is not until October.

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