Youssef Azzam

Banded together by NYUAD

By Andy Gregory

Life after graduation isn’t going quite as expected for Youssef Azzam, Class of 2020, an electrical engineering major from Egypt, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

At home in Cairo, Youssef Azzam is preparing for mandatory military service by taking time off to connect with family and friends, reflect on his accomplishments at NYUAD, and pursue his passion — music.

“I've been working with my band, Shaghaf, which means passion in Arabic,” he says. “We’re working on our new album and our first single is out.”

 

For us, it was a dream. Imagine sharing the stage with artists like Cairokee, Massar Egbari, Mashrou’ Leila, El Morabba3, and 47 Soul.

Youssef Azzam, Class of 2020

Azzam’s band has a delightful origin story with an Abu Dhabi twist. All three band members met in high school in Egypt and all three got into NYUAD, where they wrote and produced songs together, won NYUAD Battle of the Bands, and performed at the UAE’s Wasla Festival alongside famous Arab artists.

“For us, it was a dream,” Azzam says. “Imagine sharing the stage with artists like Cairokee, Massar Egbari, Mashrou’ Leila, El Morabba3, and 47 Soul.”

Shaghaf has given Azzam a much-needed creative outlet while he also remains grounded in the reality of being a recent graduate just trying to figure things out, in a pandemic economy no less. He had originally planned to work for a few years after graduation, get a master’s degree, and then do his required military service. But COVID-19 came along and changed everything. So, he decided to sign up for military training as soon as possible and is expected to start in the spring.

“Life hasn’t been going the way I imagined,” he says candidly. “I feel like that's something other students need to understand. I guess in one way or another, I’ve come to accept that unlike your life at NYUAD, a four-year plan may not be in the cards.”