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Etab: The Late Afro-Arab Songstress is Saudi Arabia's First Female Singer

When it comes to contemporary arts and culture, the Middle East is perhaps best known for its classic music, and A-list musicians such as Fairuz, Umm Kulthum, and Abdel Halim Hafez. However, there is one name that everyone ought to know: Tarouf Abdel-Kheir Adam, otherwise best known as Etab.

Loved in Saudi Arabia, the late Etab was a renowned Afro-Arab songstress from the Kingdom. Born in 1947, she became a professional singer in the 1960s, making her the first female singer in Saudi Arabia. She had her first start at the impressive age of 13 where she earned her stage name, having been discovered by Talal Maddah. However, it wouldn't be until she moved to Egypt where she would find success on a global scale.

Etab’s Google Doodle

"What were her songs like?" you might be asking. Etab grew up as a Bedouin and, naturally, a handful of her songs often reflected her Bedouin roots. In addition to singing North African folk songs, at the time, she was also known to mix classic and contemporary songs. Her melody voice perfectly complements her songs covering a handful of genres. Her popular songs include "Khabruni Anki Maa Yadruni Anni," and "Gani Al-Asmar," both of which you should check out on YouTube. 

She also performed in concerts across the region, with her early performance in Kuwait rising her to stardom. She produced a total of 15 albums, and even featured in three films, before retiring in 1997. In addition, she was also a member at the Union of Arab Artists and the Musicians Syndicate, advocating for women in music. 

Etab was also a wife and a mother. She married her second husband, an Egyptian national named Farouk Farouq, before moving to Cairo in the 1970s. She would earn her Egyptian citizenship in 1983. She had two children, in addition to her first child from her previous marriage, who lived with her in the UAE after divorcing Farouq. But, in 1997, she was diagnosed with cancer before moving back to Egypt. She died on August 21, 2007, with Google Doodle making a tribute to the fallen icon in 2017. 

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