Thank You For the Music

Fate brought three students together before joining NYU Abu Dhabi.

Sara Hussein Fakhry, Ahmed Mitry, and Youssef Azzam grew up in Cairo and went to the same high school, but their paths never crossed.

Azzam, NYUAD Class of 2020, and Mitry, Class of 2021, met backstage at their school talent show and became fast friends who jammed and performed at school events. The dynamics changed when they were joined by Fakhry on piano for their school commencement day.

The first time the trio got together to practice, the chemistry was instantaneous. This was the start of their band, Shaghaf.

(L-R) Band members of Shaghaf in a recording studio, Youssef Azzam, Ahmed Mitry, and Sara Hussein Fakhry. Image courtesy of Azzam.

Early Success

Shaghaf, meaning passion, joined a nationwide music competition in Egypt. Out of 700 applications, they were the youngest contestants to get selected — not bad for a band formed only three months earlier. Shaghaf came second place in the finals and were exposed to many local venues and industry contacts.

However, Shaghaf’s future soon became uncertain when Azzam got ready to leave for NYU Abu Dhabi.

A Tricky University Application

When Azzam was entering his sophomore year, Fakhry told him that she had applied to NYUAD. While elated, Azzam said to Fakhry, “This doesn’t feel right.” 

That’s when Azzam and Fakhry convinced Mitry to complete the NYUAD application without knowing what it was for. The friends submitted it on his behalf. 

When the invitation to NYUAD's Candidate Weekend arrived in Mitry’s mailbox, he was adamant that there had been a mistake. And then, it dawned on him.

Let’s Jam

When Mitry was in Paris, Azzam in New York, and Fakhry in Abu Dhabi for their NYUAD courses, an unexpected call came from the Wasla Festival organizers in Dubai. They would like Shaghaf to open the festival for them. Depsite being in different countries, it was an opportunity too good to miss. The band pulled together funds to fly back into the UAE to perform. 

What's Next

After graduation, Azzam hopes to stay in Abu Dhabi to find work and continue to perform with Shaghaf when it is safe to do so. 

Meanwhile, Shaghaf is planning to release another single this summer, and eventually a five-song album that will be available online. For a taster, take a listen to Shaghaf’s last single, Helmak, on Spotify.