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Elissa Image Credit: Supplied

Lebanese pop star Elissa announced that she will be quitting the music industry and compared it to a “mafia” that she could not work within any longer.

The singer, who has been one of the best-selling Arab female artists over the past two decades, broke the news on Twitter that her next album would be her last. The hashtag ‘WeAreAllElissa’ went viral with several of the biggest Middle Eastern pop stars responding.

“I am preparing this new album with a lot of love and passion. The reason is that it will be the last one in my career. I am announcing this with a heavy heart but with a lot of conviction because I can’t work in a field that is similar to mafias. I can’t be productive anymore,” wrote Elissa.

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Elissa talking about her battle with cancer at the Dubai Health Forum in January, 2019. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Posting a broken heart emoji, Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe strongly rejected Elissa’s retirement.

“You have overcome tougher circumstances, Elissa! Neither us, nor your fan base, nor your people will accept this kind of decision. You need to continue singing and gracing stages and whoever doesn’t like it should be the one to leave!” wrote Wehbe.

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Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Emirati singer Ahlam wrote that she would stand by Elissa’s side but also did not accept her retirement.

“Your upcoming album won’t be your last,” tweeted Ahlam. “You are right, there are people who live in a big lie, but your large fan base is waiting for you to prove that this industry is beautiful because you are in it. #WeAreAllElissa”

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Emirati singer Ahlam. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Lebanese singer Ramy Ayach also responded, writing: “Maybe we weren’t friends. We did not exchange views, we were not close and we certainly did each other injustice and got dragged into the wrong feelings. But I will not accept your retirement, you are warm, loving, self-reconciled and gentle and you are still at your height. I love you very implicitly and boast of you in Arab societies. Congratulations in advance for all the coming albums.”

Egyptian singer Mohammad Hamaki said he would “never want to imagine this field without you”.

“You have my full support with whatever [you] decide, but I wish you can give this another thought,” tweeted Hamaki.

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Egyptian singer Mohamed Hamaki. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

The outspoken singer Shams, who is of Saudi and Kuwaiti origin, wrote that Elissa is “the important artist in the Arab world and whoever says otherwise is lying.”

“I’m in the industry and I will say that there is no other artist from the Arab world who sells albums and songs like you with only their effort, voice and choices, and without the backing of people or countries or governments. Don’t let anyone get you down, you are the only Elissa … And one day, the mafia will be in the past,” Shams wrote.

The 46-year-old singer, born Elissa Khoury, has released 11 albums and sold millions of records to date.

Born to a Lebanese father and Syrian mother, the pop star began her musical journey on the talent search programme ‘Studio El Fan’ in 1992. She released her debut album ‘Baddy Doub (I Want to Melt)’ in 1999.

Last year, Elissa collapsed during a Global Village performance in Dubai and later announced she was battling breast cancer. The singer shared the news of her illness via a music video, for a track titled ‘Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni (To All Those Who Love Me)’, which has amassed more than 20 million views on YouTube.

“I never stopped working a single day. My doctor was upset that I was treating the grave disease as though I was handling a flu,” the pop star said this year at the Dubai Health Forum.

In response to Elissa’s retirement, Lebanese singer Maya Diab wrote that “for now the most important thing is your health, the rest is just details.”

A fan shared an article claiming that Elissa’s record label Rotana had forced the retirement and called the label “low and despicable”. However, Elissa, who has had issues with Rotana in the past after confusion arose in the wake of their deal with music streaming service Deezer, was quick to squash the rumour. She replied: “Not true, so plz behave.”

The pop star announced that she had chosen the first song of her upcoming album in November on Twitter, declaring the launch of ‘the #ElissaAlbum12 journey’.