Diana Joseph Fouad Haddad (Arabic: ديانا جوزيف فؤاد حداد) (born in Bsalim, Lebanon on 1 October 1976) is a Lebanese singer and television personality with Emirati citizenship. Mainly known as Diana Haddad, she is one of the most popular and successful singers in the Arab World and has been so since the late 1990s. She was a record-breaker since her first song Saken in 1996, and she is still considered one of the most successful Arab female singers and one of the best selling singers in the Arab World. Haddad does not limit herself to one music style, she knows how to present a very wide range, moving from the most rhythmic songs to the slow romantic ones. Haddad first came to fame in 1993 when she just 16. While she was recording her first album she appeared on the Arabic talent show Studio El Fan in Beirut performing the traditional Lebanese folk song written by Elias Abou Azala Tayr El Yammameh which would be included on her first album Saken.
Three years later, she released of her debut album Saken, which featured her single Saken, Lagaitek, a cover of Issam Rajji's old hit, and Al-Sahra. Soon after, she became a mother to her first child, her daughter Sophie. In 1997 she released one of the most successful albums in her discography, Ahl Al Esheg, which included the hit single Ahl Al Esheg. She released the most popular pop album of the 1990s Ammanih. In the 2000s, she released the more critically acclaimed and successful albums Awel Marrah and Diana 2006. In 2007 Haddad gave birth to her second daughter Mira in Dubai. On 30 October 2008, Haddad released her second long waited Khaliji (Persian Gulf ) album Men Diana Illa.
Haddad was born to a Maronite Christian father Joseph Haddad and a Muslim mother Mouna Haddad in a small village called Bsalim in Lebanon on 1 October 1976.
1996-1998: Early success:
In 1996 Haddad released her debut album, Saken. Her second album Ahl Al Esheg, was released February 1997. Haddad's third album Ammanih was released late in 1997. Yammaia, her fourth album, was released in late 1998.
1999: Shater (Clever) and Conversion to Islam:
In the summer of 1999, Haddad released her fifth album, Shater which means Clever in Arabic.
It showed an upbeat side to Haddad's music and the Arabic genre in general, enjoying the most simple things in life such as nature and the sun. Shater continued along the lines of Ammanih; several collaborations and joyful music. The single Shater also achieved Huge success Topping more than 17 radio, TV Charts for more than 4 Months according To MBC. The video was shot in Dubai by her husband. It would also be an important year since, in October that same year Diana Haddad officially converted to Islam and became a Muslim in honour of deceased Muslim mother Mouna who died in 1998. However, her decision met with strong opposition from her Maronite Christian father Joseph Haddad and some of her other relatives for a while. She went on to do Umrah that same year in Mecca. Diana Haddad rarely speaks openly about her religious beliefs stating its personal and only between her and God. Prior to her official conversion Haddad did thorough research into Islam and she once stated in an interview in Al-Jareema magazine, that attending the lectures of Islamic scholars Sheikh Al-Shrawi and Tarek Swaed is also what motivated her to convert.
2000-2003: Musical maturity:
Expanding the horizons of her singing career, Haddad released her sixth album, Jarh Al Habib, in the summer of 2000. Akhbar Helwa, Haddad's seventh album was released in July 2001. Law Yesaloni was the eighth album.
2004-2007: Diverse and international success:
Haddad's tenth album was released in March 2006. She called it Diana 2006.
2008-present: Second Khaliji album:
In late 2008, Haddad announced news that she is working on a duet with Alicia Keys, but Keys asked for a half million dollars for the duet which was too much for a song according to Haddad. Instead Diana finished another duet with Lebanese Canadian singer with Karl Wolf.
Haddad made a summer mini tour in 2009, beginning with two concerts in Paris. Then she took part in Al Mydiak Festival in Morocco in honor of the King Crowning Day. During this concert Haddad set a record in the festival's history by attracting more than 150,000 people according to the Festival's management and Nahla Fahad. She travelled to Algeria, where she took a part in Al Kazef and Jamela festivals. Haddad was scheduled to do two concerts in Egypt, but it was cancelled due to large fear of swine flu. Diana Haddad ended the short tour in Lebanon with two concerts; the first one was in Maghdouche her hometown (she sung there for the very first time). Her concert in Maghdouche attracted more than 6,000 people from all over Lebanon. Diana Haddad was happy and proud to sing in her hometown for the first time since the beginning of her career.
Personal life (lifestyle, marriage, personality, family, religion):
Diana Haddad comes from the Southern Lebanese town of Maghdouche, although born in the Mountain town of Bsalim. She is the third born out of 5 siblings, the others being sister Lolita and brothers Danny, Fadi and Samir. She was raised in Kuwait until 1990 when the Gulf War reached there. She married a much older Emirati TV director Suhail Al Abdoul in the early mid 1990s while still in her teens and gave birth to their first child Sophie on 19 July 1996. Diana Haddad has always stated in the face of critics who called it a marriage of convenience that it was out of love she married, not search of wealth. However, she recognized that she was far too young to marry, even though in love she had not fully grown up. The couple's second daughter Mira was born on 26 November 2007. Diana Haddad is also noted to being quite petite in size and height. Following the death of her Muslim mother, Diana Haddad converted to Islam in late 1999 and performed Umrah soon afterwards. Haddad rarely speaks about her conversion or religious beliefs in public, but frequently states she is a true believer of God. Although Diana Haddad once told an Arabic Magazine how her Christian relatives (particularly her father) did not support her decision to convert to Islam and were against it, however, eventually respected her decision. She is the only one of her siblings who practices Islam. Diana Haddad lives in Dubai with her two daughters Sophie and Mira fathered from her Ex-husband Suhail Al Abdoul. In February 2010 in an interview with Mazen Diab for "Stars Cafe", Diana Haddad spoke on the topic of her divorce and marriage openly. She went on to state despite not regretting her marriage or her choice. She did, however, regret being married at such a young age, stating that she would not encourage it and that girls should be at least old enough to be mentally prepared for the path of marriage. When Mazen attempted to ask whether she saw comparisons between her divorce and that of her friend fellow Lebanese singer Nawal Al Zoghbi divorce from her husband Elie Deeb Haddad, she politely declined to be compared to Al-Zoghbi's situation. She explained, unlike Al Zoghbi, her divorce had not been as publicized and she is on good terms with her ex-husband Suhail Al-Abdoul.
Haddad revealed that she was not against plastic surgery as long as it was not exaggerated and admitted to having Rhinoplasty on her nose. Haddad says in future if she decides to ever undergo cosmetic surgery, she would not conceal it because she has nothing to hide. In late 2009 while traveling in Lebanon with her driver in Beirut. Diana Haddad and her driver were suddenly attacked by armed militant bandits demanding everyone in the car to get out. It is believed these were robbers with the motive to steal. Amid the dangerous atmosphere Haddad's driver refuse to obey the demands of the criminals and made a daring, yet life saving quick exit and escape. The militants attempted to catch up with them but failed. Haddad called the incident traumatic and said she was not able to sleep for days afterwards with fear and anxiety. However, she went on to say she is grateful and thankful to be safe and alive; that it shows the true kindness of God.
Haddad frequently visits her native Lebanon when possible and owns real estate there. Since her conversion to Islam nearly a decade ago, Haddad describes herself as a "private, yet observant Muslim" who prays, reads from the Qur'an and fasts during the holy month of Ramadan. She takes part in charity activities whenever possible. Rumours had been circulating that Haddad had embraced Sufism (a mystical interpretation of Islam) in midst of her divorce, she, however, denied these claims. Then rumours began that she had left Islam and returned to Christianity (which she denied) and stated she did not find it offensive since she "respects all religions" but continued to state she is a devout Muslim, dedicated to her faith. She has stated that the hardest time of the year is celebrating Eid (A celebration of significant event) in absence of her dead mother despite celebrating it with other Muslim relatives; the death of her mother is still a painful memory. She revealed that a song on her 2010 album would be dedicated to her mother and the relationship between a mother and daughter. She was a Main Judge on the Khaleeji version of Star Academy Najm Al Khaleej 1st series from 2009-2010. In March 2010 during an interview with the Arabic Elaph news portal, Haddad was asked whether she participated in the recent Lebanese elections of 2009, she stated that she had not voted and explaining; "I live in the UAE now, however as for Lebanon, my wish is for it to live in peace, because Lebanon is a lover of life and peace. I hope that God loves every official in Lebanon who puts the country's interests over his personal benefit." On June, 2011, Haddad released a religious song called A Gift From God in honor of the holy month of Ramadan.
Diana Haddad is well known for her humanitarian work and activism in times of crisis and for social causes. In 2000 upon the uprising of the Palestinian Intifada, Diana released a track & video dedicated for the Palestinian cause and struggle called Al Haq yaktubo min Dami (The right is written with my blood) She cancelled her scheduled 15 city US tour of that year,in solidarity with the Palestinian people. When asked why she chose to sing for the intifada Haddad responded; This song is the least I can do for the Palestinian people in support for their cause," said Haddad adding "if we believe that these hard times are not the times to contribute anything; then when is the right time?!" "We cannot watch idly what we see on television and not move," she explained. The lyrics of the song was written by Saudi Arabian poet Saoud Al Sharbatli, translates as; "The right is written with my blood... There is a name that my mouth repeats, Al Quds, here we are, we have come to save you. Young soldiers have beat the old, thrown stones and made the enemy's murdering army flee." The music video was shot by Haddad's ex-husband Suhail al-abdool.
Haddad joined a campaign in 2003 against the dangers of the use of drugs and smoking in the UAE by releasing a single called Bi Edak El Qarar (The Decision is in Your Hands) written by poet Karim Al Iraqi and composed by Dr. Fatih Allah Ahmad. She was chosen to be part of the campaign by the organizers of the project out of a large list of candidates because of wide her wide popularity around the Arab world at the time. The video was directed by her husband Suhail Al-abdool and aired on television channels across the Arab world.
In 2007 she was named as the "Philanthropy star " for her many humanitarian work. In 2007 she took a part in a charity concert held by the American CHF firm in UAE, Jemira along with Assi el Helani, Youri Mrakkadi and Bassem Feghali. The money raised from the concert went to Lebanon's children. She was invited by the Emarati princess Haya Bent Hussain to a charity event and auction for patients in UAE. In 2008 she was honored by Al Rashid Care Center, for her work with handicapped children from the centre. Diana Haddad stated in interview about why she did this for the children, she said: "As a mother I know we must share our lives with these children." at September 2011 The International Human Rights Watch Organisation (HRW) has appointed prominent local lady, Lebanese singer Diana Haddad as an Ambassador of Peace. Diana will be taking part in numerous humanitarian and charitable activities that are part of the HRW's agenda in the Arab world, so keep an eye out for our peace warrior.
Declining Dameer Al Arabi:
Diana Haddad was offered in 2008 to be part an ensemble of artists to sing Dameer Al Arabi (The Arab Conscience) about the dire situation of the middle east and Arab world from Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Iraq War, sectarian tensions & political instability of Lebanon and many other issues. It was basically a sequel to Al Helm Al Arabi project of the 1990s. Many of the original participants agreed to take part again like Asala Nasri. However, many new famous artists joined to the ensemble this time from Yara, Nancy Ajram, Amal Hijazi, Diana Karazon and even Cheb Khaled. However in an interview with Tarattatta -a music variety show, she said Arab "patriotic songs" proved useless and vain. Haddad explained that a long tradition of patriotic themes in Arabic songs did not lead to any change in situations and issues involving the Arab World. Speaking about why she declined participation in Al Dameer Al Arabi (The Arab Conscience). Haddad pointed out that such themes are all worn-out, and has no role to play anymore. "We have to find a different way to help our societies," she concluded.
Diana Haddad is known for her elegant style since the early start of her career, wearing designs and conjuring her own unique style. Many believe she is currently the only Lebanese female artist who consolidates with the conservative Arabic traditions combined with feminine elegance and beauty. In 2003 she was chosen as the "Most Elegant Female Arab Singer" at the Al-Doha Festival in Qatar. She has also attended many fashion shows of Walid Attalah, her stylist at the time. She has also worked with Akl Fakeh the only Lebanese stylist who has won the UAE Golden Key for his designs. When she attended the Fashion show of her stylist and personal designer Akl Fakih in late 2009, she was perhaps the most notable guest there. To quote the Khaleej Times on Haddad's appearance there; " Adding that extra touch of glamour was the presence of Arab singer Diana Haddad in the audience." In 2007 Haddad was awarded the title The Most Stylish Star of 2007 by "Stars Cafe" Magazine (the official source for World Music Award results in The Middle East). She received the highest votes from experts in fashion as per polls by the said magazine beating well known stars like Nawal Al Zoghbi, Haifa Wehbe, Elissa and Nancy Ajram.
Khaliji vs Lebanese Haddad:
In recent years, her popularity and album sales are still increasing as is her fanbase. Many old fans from her native country of Lebanon feel disappointed with her latest Khaliji style, with some going as far as accusing the singer of "selling out" her Lebanese roots and wishing for her to return to her original "Lebanese" style.
In an Interview with Diana Haddad and her husband Suhail al-abdoul when they were titled as one of the UAE's 2007 Hot Power Couples, they made the same list the previous year in 2006 which was conducted in "Ahlan!" magazine where she stated her love for Khaliji Gulf traditions and saying "I love Dubai,". "You can find everything here - it's a cultural city. I even sang for Dubai's National Day in 2006. That was a big event for me."
Her connection to the Gulf Region and influences can be traced back to her childhood where she spent mostly in Kuwait and her marriage to Emirati video director Suhail Al-abdool playing a major role. The irony is that despite Khaliji music being a specific style of Arabic beats, instruments, and dialect, and while it may be possible for a non-Khaliji to perform, it is almost never accepted as genuine material. However, Haddad has managed to break that barrier and stereotype. She is very popular among people in the Gulf Region and has been somewhat "adopted" into Emirati culture and society.
Relationship With Others In The Music Industry:
Despite at times making criticism at music styles she does not like, or the videos she feels are obscene, Diana Haddad has never launched personal attacks against other singers even the ones she does not like, except at the Nawal incident being an exception. The owner of Alam Al Phan record company credited Diana Haddad in the 2004 interview with Khaleej Times, after signing her, stating that unlike many singers who are motivated by greed Diana Haddad is different as she spent 2 years "perfecting" on her Awel Marrah album." When asked what made him want to work with her, he answered: "She is a genuine singer" and added that his company will do everything to promote artists like her.
Nawal Al Zoghbi ;:
Diana Haddad and Nawal Al Zoghbi were once centre of a famous feud. In 2000 Diana Haddad's husband Suhail Al-Abdoul accused Nawal Al Zoghbi of paying more attention to her fashion style than her voice and songs. Al Zoghbi took the couple to court in Lebanon on grounds of "emotional distress" she suffered as a result of criticisms made by Abdoul in the Arabic press and his wife Diana Haddad's statements that her voice was "out of tune". However in 2002 the court rejected her case and she lost. The ruling stated that "the statement made by Haddad is not classified as defamation of the claimant, because it does not have any impact on her basic artistic position but is rather linked with her performance. The claim that the plaintiff is a singer or performer is a flexible classification that conforms to personal standards".
Amazingly in 2004, the two singers overcame their differences, when Diana took the initiative and made a personal phone call to Nawal after hearing that Nawal was experiencing a downfall in her health. Diana revealed that once she heard Nawal was not feeling well, she felt it her duty to call and wish her a fast recovery. Nawal on her part was grateful towards Diana for calling her putting aside all disputes that had previously occurred. Soon after that, they began to form a mutual respect for one each other. Diana Haddad on an interview with television show host Nishan, she expressed her respect for the singer even singing a song dedicated to Nawal live. She also recorded a live version of Nawal Al Zoghbi's Mandam Aleik on her phone and put on her website in tribute to Nawal. Nawal Al Zoghbi also made a tribute to Diana on a Lebanese television show by singing Diana's debut song from 1996 Saken live.
One of the Arab world's biggest singers yet surprisingly Diana Haddad has rarely ever spoken about or met with Elissa. Despite the fact the two both competed against each other at the Studio El Fan contest, in the same season 1992-1993. However, Diana came in defence of Elissa work that she and her album Ayami Beek deserved to win the World Music Award in 2008 more than the current winner Nancy Ajram who won for her album Betfakkar fi eih?!. Diana Stated that it was clear which album was of a better quality (Ayami Beek). In 2010 when asked in interview on her opinion about Elissa, she stated she thinks Elissa has a "beautiful voice" that is unique and that she clearly deserved the WMA award. Haddad also went on to praise the quality of songs Elissa chooses.
Majid Al Muhandis:
Diana Haddad maintains a good friendship with Iraqi singer Majid Al Muhandis and just like Elissa, Diana stated she believed his album deserved to win the 2008 World Music Award more than Nancy Ajram. Since it was clear that he put more effort and the material was of a better quality. In an interview Majid revealed when he was involved in an accident, Diana personally contacted his manager to check on his recovery.
Diana Haddad has made it no secret that the type of music Nancy Ajram sings is not her style nor is she a fan of. She also stated in a magazine interview that Nancy's voice itself "doesn't make her gleeful". However, Diana also stated in another interview that despite not being a fan of Nancy Ajram's music, she does respect and admire the singer's accomplishment of rising to fame in such a short amount of time.
Diana criticism of Nancy Ajram's music came into the spotlight once again when Haddad responded into news of the Lebanese singer winning the 2008 World Music Award. Diana stated that there were other artists who deserved it more with better albums than Nancy's like Elissa and Majid Al Muhandis.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license