Amr Diab to Nancy Ajram: these are the most streamed and followed Arab artists

The 'Forbes Middle East' list analyses streaming numbers from social media sites and streaming platforms

Egypt's Amr Diab and Lebanon's Nancy Ajram continue to reign supreme in the Arab music industry.

Both singers made strong showings in Forbes Middle East’s The Celebrity List: Arab Music Stars 2021.

Released on Monday and presented alphabetically, the list analyses regional artist’s social media numbers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, in addition to streaming figures on platforms Anghami and Deezer, to see who dominated the Arab popular music scene in 2020.

With major music concerts and festivals mostly cancelled because of the pandemic, the poll illustrates how Arab pop stars ramped up their online presence through the digital release of songs and social media content in order to sustain their brand during the period.

On that score, Diab and Ajram outshone the pack.

Diab is the most regionally streamed artist on Anghami and Deezer, while Ajram commands the biggest social media following across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

When it comes to the makeup of the list, Egyptian artists lead the charge with 20 entries, followed by 12 artists from Lebanon.

Emirati artists Hussain Al Jassmi and Ahlam were the country's sole representatives, while veteran singers Abdul Majeed Abdullah and Rashed Al Majed were the only listed artists from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain respectively.

Here are some of the major Arab pop stars to make the list:

1. Amr Diab

2. Nancy Ajram

3. Elissa

4. Wegz

5. Tamer Hosny

6. Abdul Majeed Abdullah

7. Ahlam

8. Mohamed Ramadan

9. Hussain Al Jassmi

10. Soolking

1. Amr Diab

Even without his usual sold out world tours, Egyptian singer Amr Diab remains the Arab world's pop music king.

Not only was he the most streamed Mena artist on Anghami and Deezer in 2020, but his album Sahran was also the most listened to release on both platforms across the region with a combined 68 million streams.

What's even more remarkable is that Diab continues to be on top nearly 40 years since his 1983 debut album Ya Tareea.

2. Nancy Ajram

Perhaps the only consolation for what was a difficult 2020 for Ajram, which included a terrifying Beirut home invasion and her husband's subsequent arrest, is that her online strength remained undiminished.

According to Forbes Middle East, she is the most followed Arab singer on social media with a combined 71 million followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

3. Elissa

The Lebanese singer is a voracious social media user and has built up a fervent online following.

With 56 million followers spanning Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Elissa is behind Ajram as the second most followed Arab artist on social media.

Her much anticipated album Sahbit Raey went on to become the third-most streamed Mena album in 2020 on Deezer, which holds exclusive streaming rights for the release.

4. Wegz

Finally there is a young Arab artist challenging an increasingly entrenched old guard.

Egyptian rapper Wegz, 20, confirms all that hype is real by being the second-most streamed artist on Deezer across the Mena region and eighth on Anghami.

Only four years into his career, he has already racked up more than 200 million views on YouTube.

5. Tamer Hosny

The Egyptian pop star was a prevalent topic on regional social media throughout 2020 for reasons both on and off the stage.

In addition to teasing fans with a string of singles in the lead up to his yet-to-be-released album Khaleek Folazy, rumours of Hosny's uncertain marital status caused him to trend occasionally throughout last year.

All that attention didn't hurt his listening numbers, however. Hosny was the fourth-most streamed artist on Anghami and Deezer across Mena.

6. Abdul Majeed Abdullah

As the only Saudi Arabian artist to crack the list, Abdullah also made a strong showing online in 2020.

As well as being the 10th most streamed artist on Deezer in Mena, his song Hann El Ghareeb was also the platform's most streamed song in the region for the year.

7. Ahlam

One of two Emiratis on the list, Ahlam had a relatively quiet 2020 as she prepared the release of new album Fedwat Oyounak, which released in February.

That said, with over 31 million combined followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram she remains the most followed Emirati music artist on social media.

8. Mohamed Ramadan

The Egyptian actor’s inroads into Arabic pop has played off.

His single Ya Habibi, had a high profile launch in 2020, in both Dubai (where the video was shot) and on a Spotify billboard in New York's Times Square.

Two other tracks, Rayheen Neshar and Ensay became the most streamed Deezer track in Egypt and 13th most streamed Arabic track on Anghami respectively.

9. Hussain Al Jassmi

Al Jassmi's career took a more global turn in 2020, with him being the only Arab artist to perform in the One World: Together at Home concert in April.

The Emirati singer was also the voice of telecommunication company Orange Egypt’s high-profile Ramadan campaign, as well as being one of the first artists to perform at Dubai Opera after the venue reopened in August.

He went on to become the seventh-most streamed Arab artist on Anghami and within the top 50 regional artists on Deezer.

10. Soolking

After becoming the most popular Arab Spotify artist streamed across Mena in 2019, the Algerian rapper (real name Abderraouf Derradji) continues to impress.

He expanded his online imprint in 2020 with the track Melegim becoming the 17th most streamed song in Mena on Deezer, while Vintage earned the same position for most regionally streamed album on Anghami.

He is also the seventh-most streamed Arab artist on Deezer across Mena.

Updated: April 7, 2021 05:35 PM

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