Revolutionary Egyptian singer to perform in Dubai

Mohammed Mounir's music was banned by the former government and seen as revolutionary inspiration. His most recent hit, How, became an anthem as thousands of protestors chanted the lyrics in Tahrir Square.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -  May 4, 2011 - Mohammed Muneer is an Egyptian singer who is performing his first concert in the UAE on Friday.   ( DELORES JOHNSON / The National )
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DUBAI // An Egyptian singer whose music was seen as inspirational in his home country's spring revolution is bringing his music to Dubai tonight.

The 56-year-old Mohammed Mounir has a history of political, religious and romantic songs. His most recent hit, How, became an anthem as thousands of protestors chanted the lyrics in Tahrir Square.

Mounir explained that the song is an accumulation of his life events and the capstone to a series of political works over his 30-year career.

"It was the conclusion of a series that I dreamt of," he said. "So throughout my career I was calling for [revolution], but I might've been polite at first."

It started with his first song dedicated to Egypt, Ya Aroosat al Nile (You Bride of the Nile), in which he asked the country to sing and write, but it did not listen.

"So in the end I told her, how?" he said.

Amina Khairat, an opera singer and a music media researcher, said How, produced three months before the revolution and was banned from Egyptian television, "captured the spirit of the revolution."

"It expressed the rage of the revolution and is full of life," she said.

There were several songs by Egyptian artists released during or after the revolution referring to its martyrs and victims, she said, "However, How was just right for the revolution's events. We kept chanting it in Tahrir Square, along with Mounir's other songs."

In the song, Mounir admonishes Egypt, saying: "I don't find in my love for you a motive, neither is my honest love for you helping, how am I raising your head in pride and you are lowering it down for me in shame, how?"

"There is a big difference between a song for war and a song for revolution," Mounir said. "In any place in the world when a war occurs, you see the greatest songs come out.

"But the real singer, when he wants to sing for the revolution, he will incite it before it happens."

Mounir's association to politics extended beyond his music. He was under investigation by Egyptian intelligence and banned from singing in official venues such the Cairo Opera House for three years after the unofficial opposition leader Mohammed al Baradei told an Egyptian newspaper he liked Mounir's music.

Despite his revolutionary history, Mounir said he was singing in Dubai simply for "spiritual refreshment".

"There are many sides to singing; yes, there is an important issue that should be addressed, and there is spiritual refreshment, entertainment and intellect."

Kareem Fawzy, a 31-year-old Egyptian banker, said he had been a fan of Mounir since ninth grade.

"When I focused on the lyrics of his songs, I admired him, because he is different than other singers who only sing about love," he said.

"He does have love songs, but most of his songs have goals that have to do with Egypt and politics."