At 14 years old Hisham Makari set his sights on conquering the music world and compromise is not an option for him.
An education in marketing to keep the parents at bay and an over-emphasized enthusiasm for a potential life as a sound engineer cleverly masked his real dream — to
entertain the world.

Limelight may be a word many artists say they don't need, crave or even want, but do we really believe them? “It's not about fame it's about my music — really".

But Omani-born Makari, better known as Sham, is refreshingly honest about being the centre of attention.

“I want to perform, I want to be on stage in front of an audience going wild for me and I am my own hero."
An uncomplicated attitude which, from the outside, seems to have catapulted him into a world where he could always picture himself.


Born to an English mother and local father, Sham's passion for music was obvious from an early age. With a DJ father, Hamood Al Maskari, who is today still remembered as Oman's first big club DJ, Sham started listening to Hip Hop stars including Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre, Warren G, and LL Cool J who were later to become his main influences.

Describing his music as ‘soft' R&B, Sham says, “The modern artists will always play their part and I appreciate and acknowledge that but I have been touched by many musicians from all eras and from all over the world. Michael Jackson will always be someone who features in almost everything I write."

A born showman, by the age of 13 Sham was performing in various talent competitions and events in England where he was studying — experiences which he claims gave him the drive and determination to take his passion to the next level.

Malaysian dream

But it was only as Sham turned 18 and made a move to Malaysia that he really started to believe his dream could become a reality.

“Don't get me wrong, I always knew what was in my heart and I knew it was music which kept me going, but I was also realistic. Some people believe if you want to be a
singer then as long as you have enough passion you won't give up until it's happened. But I was bright enough to know that there are no guarantees. I could have tried my
entire life and still never made it.

In Malaysia Sham “blagged" his way into the country's largest music award night and pursued one of the top producers of the time.

“This guy had worked with Yaseen, Binda and Brothers — who were all huge in Malaysia at the time — and I just knew I had to make an impression."

Sham recorded singles which hit number one on most radio stations and at the age of 21 he decided to break new territory and try his luck in the UK. Performances in various clubs up and down the country soon resulted in open doors and opportunities to collaborate with many international DJs.
But it was back in Dubai a few years later that Sham says he “really hit the jackpot".

“My jackpot was not in the form of a number one hit single or album or even securing financial backing which were all things I have now achieved but instead it was meeting Sal, in my opinion Dubai's number one record producer."

Musical sal-vation

Songwriter, composer, producer, and singer, Salim Rashaad, known as Sal to his friends, is originally from Mombasa, Kenya, but has lived in the UAE for more than 20

An investment banker by day and producer by night, Sal has fast made a name for himself as the producer to be working with.

Over the years Sal has had the opportunity of working with people from all over the world, something he says has had a strong influence on his music and production

“I have seriously mixed it up with so many people from various cultures which has made my music what it is today. Having African roots, studying in the United States and
living in the Middle East have all been factors which have enabled me to bring a new vibe to the production of music."

And it's this unique blend of acoustic rhythms from the Middle East combined with a melodic R&B feel from the West which has caught the ear and raised interest among
some of the top record companies in the world.

He added: “I have achieved a lot in my life but right now I get the biggest kick from working with the talent here in the UAE.
“I believe the artists in the UAE are much greater than they are given credit for and I'm determined to prove it with singers like Sham."

Chart topper

And it would appear Sal's theory is correct. Since the pair joined forces in 2007 it took only months before Sham's first single, Naughty Boy, reached the top of Radio One's
top playlist.

He has also just successfully completed his first album under Sal Productionz which features international artists such as K Young and Little Eddie.

But the best was yet to come. After securing financial backing from Page Patel a Dubai-based businessman Sham shot his first video for the popular single.

“It's at number one on the MTV Arabia charts and I can't believe it. I'm so pleased and it's all thanks to the many great people around me."

He continues in an Oscar-style acceptance speech: “There are so many people I need to thank. Sal, Page and all the people who have helped me get where I am today. My
family, friends and other people in the industry who have always believed in me. But when it comes down to it there is one person who I consider my hero — me. That sounds arrogant but I think it's honestly true of many artists but they just don't tell the truth. I have worked hard and I believe in myself and I look up to myself and nobody else."

Sham has played alongside the likes of Omarion, Black Street and Mark Huston and the future is certainly looking rosy.

He enjoys what he does and it all seems to come so easily, something other artists may question with envy.

Maybe it's his realistic outlook which keeps him grounded. “If it doesn't work out I'm going to build a holiday resort in Zanzibar. I have already bought the land and that's what
I'll do could be fun."

Or maybe it's just because he really is that good.