Life is good for Mohamed Hamaky. With two hit music albums under his belt and countless memorable songs, the charismatic Egyptian singer and songwriter – who performed at Dubai’s Global Village on Thursday – is now embarking on other projects, including commercials, a movie and going international. Emirates Business talked to the rising star about business, the internet, and whether those Craig David rumours are true.
You’ve just released your new single Bahebek Kol Youm Aktar (I Love You More Every Day), with Melody Entertainment. What made you decide to switch record companies?
Whenever I release new material I have to look at all the options as to which firm I should release with. I’m happy with the result of the single and its video, which was shot in Egypt, and I’m currently working on my third album, due in July.
The single also featured in your commercial with Coca-Cola. You have previously been asked to represent other brands, but you only accepted this one. Any particular reason?
I only believe in doing something if it adds value to an artist. Yes, I have been offered other commercials, but I don’t want to just advertise anything in order to make money. The reason I went for Coca-Cola is the fact that it is a reputable company, and so I was confident that I would be comfortable with it.
The company also signed on Tamer Hosni recently, and he performed in Dubai two weeks ago. You’re often compared to each other – is that something you take notice of?
Of course I hear about it, but I don’t let it affect my work. I hate comparing anyone; it’s just a waste of energy. The key to success is to focus on your own work, and do the best you can – only you can make your own success. It’s not going to benefit me in any way if I start checking up on what Tamer is doing at the moment, or even what Amr Diab is doing.
So far, you haven’t had a problem selling CDs. However, with Arabic music file sharing on the rise, record companies are losing money. What do you think about online piracy?
To be honest, it affects the record company more than the artist, because they’re losing money. I don’t really mind if people download my music online; my aim is to get my music out to as many people as possible. But thankfully, my fans actually like having the real CD or cassette, so even though they download the music, they also buy the original. Nowadays, record companies are looking at other options to make money from the music, such as downloadable mobile ringtones, multimedia messaging as well as ways to protect music on CDs.
Do you see yourself going into business? Running a record label or designing clothes, for example?
You mean like Justin Timberlake? (Laughs) Nah, that’s not me at all. Music is my main passion; I can’t see myself dealing with any business ventures.
What about lending your name to a product?
Yeah, that would be cool. I’d like to do something like Jennifer Lopez or David Beckham. You know, how they have perfume named after them. If the product is right, and I believe in it, no problem.
You’re branching out into acting this year. Tell us more.
In the past couple of years, I have been offered many movie roles, but I just wasn’t comfortable with the scripts. I didn’t feel the scripts were anything different to what we usually watch. But now, I have accepted to act in one film, and shooting is set to begin after Ramadan. I can’t reveal any more details at the moment.
Some of your songs have been hits in the West. Are you hoping to cross over into the international market?
I would love to. Music is a universal language, so a song can be a hit even if you don’t understand it. Just look at the Macarena for example. Everybody loved it in the region. I’d love to create Arabic songs with Arabic music that would appeal to everyone.
Do you think your first major international appearance will be alongside Craig David?
(Laughs) Who knows? Yes, it was rumoured that I was going to be doing a duet with Craig David. My manager knows his manager, and he was up for doing it, but at the time, things didn’t work out, because he asked for a ridiculously large fee. But we’re still in touch, it may just happen.
With the launch of numerous Arabic music channels in the early 2000s came the chance for new singers to make it big in the business.
Making his debut in 2003 with the single, Betethak (You’re Laughing?) and album Khaleena Ne’eesh (Let’s Live), Mohamed Hamaky is now one of Egypt’s biggest superstars. His second album, Kheles El Kalam (The Conversation is Over), which was released in 2006, became the Middle East’s best-selling album of the year – out-selling fellow male singers Amr Diab and Tamer Hosni’s efforts – and, at one point, even sold out in all record shops in the UAE.
Hamaky is best known for his single Ahla Haga Feekey (The Best Thing About You), the video for which was shot in Dubai.
‘I don’t really mind if people download my music online ’