To celebrate the release of the debut single from The 5 – the pan-Arab boyband who found fame on the 2015 season of the Arab version of X Factor – we sat down for a chat with each of the band members.
In the first of our exclusive five-part series of one-on-ones, we got to know 22-year-old Egyptian singer Ahmed Hassan.
The 5 chose to gather in Dubai to launch debut single El Donia Shabab, and we hear you're all staying in town.
We are – we’ve been here about two weeks and will stay about another three weeks. It’s the place to be in the Arab world right now. Why? It’s the most safe place – I’m from Egypt, and the situation in Egypt right now isn’t very safe.
The response to the song has been phenomenal. How nervous were you before it was released?
Very nervous. In the Middle East a lot of singers have been on all these programmes – X Factor, The Voice, Star Academy, Arab Idol, Arabs Got Talent – and after they finish, no one knows them, they disappear. Their songs are nothing. I was so nervous that I didn't sleep for two days. We're so surprised – we woke [on the day after the song's release, September 16] to find our song was on the top of the charts in all the Arab countries.
Considering how much attention you guys have attracted, are you disappointed you missed out on winning the X Factor?
Hey, come on, [24-year-old Saudi winner] Hamza [Hawsawi] is the best, and he deserves it. It doesn’t matter about who wins, it’s who’s going to work afterwards. He won a record contract – now we have a record contract. The real prize is just the money, and now we make our money.
One year ago, could you have imagined you’d be where you are today?
I had a dream when I was seven or eight years old that I would be famous. One year ago I stopped the music life, cancelled everything, and started work and study. X Factor, for me, was luck. I didn't apply for it, I didn't expect it when they called me – but I left my job, left everything to be one of the thousands entries ... and now I'm in The 5.
How are you finding the fame? Is it too much?
When I went back to my country, I found hundreds of people waiting for me in the airport, the same in Morocco, the same in Algeria. It’s an amazing feeling. But now it’s too much. After the song, I know it’s going to be too much for us.
Who would you say is the laziest member of the band?
DNB. If he was sleeping, and there was an loud bang next to him, he would not wake up.
And the most charming?
Adil [Echbiy]. All the time, he’s flirting with girls.
• El Donia Shabab is available now on iTunes
Check Scene & Heard every day from September 20 to 24 for our exclusive series of Q&As with The 5. Tomorrow we speak to Mohamed Bouhezza, aka BMD, and find out what he thinks of being called lazy ...