In Egypt, no matter your age, gender, or hometown, it’s impossible to escape the influence of Amr Diab’s music. His songs have dominated music charts not only in Egypt, but across the Arab world. However, “The Rock”, as he is sometimes referred to, is currently in testy waters over a new rule being imposed during his upcoming concerts.
Amr Diab’s official Facebook page posted a promotional poster for his upcoming Christmas performance, which prompted a slew of criticism given the new restrictions that will be imposed on its attendees.
The show, to be held at the five-star hotel Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski in Fifth Settlement on 25 December, specifically warned women concert-goers against wearing hijab (a head scarf). Many social media fans and commentators translated this as a full-fledged ban on veiled women entering the show.
Social media users began lambasting the music man for threatening to not allow veiled women to attend his concerts, even if they can afford the expensive ticket price.
Both Diab and the hotel were accused discriminating against a huge fan base.
“I called to reserve two tickets for my wife and I, and was answered with a question asking if she is veiled. They said if she was, then we could not attend, without any further clarifications,” one user commented.
“How can ‘The Rock’ allow for veiled women to be forbidden from his shows or for that matter impose any type of restriction on appearance? We respect you Amr. You are Egypt’s number one singer!” commented one female fan.
“Wearing hijab is becoming more and more difficult every day. I struggle when I travel abroad because people do not understand [my choice]. What I will never understand is why I must struggle here in Egypt? Why do I have to deal with that sort of racism every single day in this country? Why do I have to check that a certain place admits veiled women before going? Why do I have to get that ‘look’ when I enter certain places like I am not qualified to be there?” another fan commented in rage.
“This is not a concert, this is an event taking place at a hotel and Egyptians need to differentiate both definitions,” one of the show’s organisers, Omar Tantawy, told Daily News Egypt. “The event has a main theme, which is modelled off The Great Gatsby, and the theme requires that heads not be covered.”
“We’re not specifically banning veiled women from attending the show, but they simply don’t fit in. I’m a Muslim and my mother and sisters are all veiled, and they won’t attend the event despite the love they have for Diab,” he added.
The theme also requires certain that attendees where clothes of a certain style to fit the theme. This would apply to both genders. Thus, men wearing hats or covering their heads in any fashion would not be permitted to attend the show. “Our issue is not with the hijab itself, but rather is about covering heads in general,” Tantawy assured.
Although Tantawy assured that the reason behind forbidding attendees from covering their heads was because of the show’s theme, it should be noted that within the fashion era in which The Great Gatsby took place, the 1920s, head dressings were quite popular and trendy.
“This is not the first time such an event has taken place in Egypt, and these rules were applied during several previous shows for other stars without any dilemma caused by their fans,” Tantawy added.
The organisers also enlisted a number of other restrictions, which included limiting attendance to couples above the age of 21 only.
“There will be alcohol served, and an open bar. So, we can only allow adults to be a part of this event,” Tantawy explained.
Despite the controversy, ticket sales seem to have not been affected. The hotel has almost sold out of tickets, and there are reportedly a great number of celebrities and public figures attending the show.