Lebanese singer and dancer Myriam Fares is making moves offstage.
In June, she launched her own documentary, Myriam Fares: The Journey, on Netflix. While intimate accounts of celebrity lives have become the norm on streaming platforms, with everyone from Billie Eilish and Pink to Shawn Mendes all starring in their own programmes, Fares’s account is one of the first documentaries from an Arab pop star.
In an industry that is tightly media-controlled, Fares’s foray is a welcome step in offering fans more than manicured Instagram accounts and stage-managed media appearances.
As it turned out, creating the documentary – with a small and intimate crew, and many scenes shot by Fares and her family – also gave the star something to do. “A lot of this was done during the pandemic and we were all under curfew,” she told The National before her appearance at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena on Friday.
“Normally I try to keep my private life away from the spotlight, but I realised this was an opportunity to show people what my life looks away from the stage. And in many ways, it’s the normal things and everyday moments we spend with family.”
The move worked, with Myriam Fares: My Journey trending regionally on Netflix for a fortnight. It also became the most watched film in Lebanon over the same period.
A winning aspect of the documentary is it shows all the preparation – from the constant dance practice and choreography work to performances – Fares puts into her live shows. Those qualities were all on display in Abu Dhabi on Friday, in what was a typically slick performance.
Fares stands out from her peers in being one of the most exciting to watch live. Her theatrics take their cue from western pop acts, in that she explodes across the stage and laces each song with its own distinct dance routine.
Then again, her material is largely devoid of heavy chest-clutching ballads. Even the slower numbers, such as her latest single Ghaddara Ya Dounya, are packed with mid-tempo dance beats, while hits such as the Shakira-esque stomper Eih Elly Byhsal and the propulsive Khaleeji pop tune Degou El Taboul are all high-octane affairs.
And the beat will go on for Fares. She confirmed to The National that a new album is in the works and due to be released later in the year. “We will be releasing new songs from it regularly throughout the year,” she said. “I am looking forward to seeing how the people will respond.”
Judging by the reaction to her Abu Dhabi show, they will be all ears.