Sami Yusuf isn't like other pop stars. The popular British singer, whose works focus on religion and spirituality, does whatever is needed to make his fans happy — even if it means spending three hours meeting them, as he did on Monday, when he launched his third album, Wherever You Are, at Virgin Megastore in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.
Yusuf was in-store until 10pm, signing copies of his new album and chatting with fans who had patiently waited to see him.
"I'm very fortunate. One of the things I'm blessed with is having amazing supporters. These people, they pray for me, so what else do you want?" he said.
Some fans had crossed borders to meet Yusuf. Mohammad Murad Al Beloushi and his sister Fatima drove seven hours from Muscat to attend the launch. "It's worth not just a seven-hour drive, but even a 10-hour drive," Al Beloushi said.
‘Very intimate, personal'
Yusuf told tabloid! the eleven-track album is inspired by personal stories. "It's like a diary, very intimate and very personal.
"Wherever You Are still has the same spirit, but I've evolved. My music has matured," he said. "I compose my own music; I write my own stuff. Everything on this album has been played by myself pretty much," he said. This album is different from the first two, as it focuses more on voice and messages."
Unhappy with the way his music has been categorised until now — he's been called the first Islamic rock star — Yusuf coined the word "spiritique" to describe his genre. Wherever You Are is the beginning of a new chapter of this genre, he said, adding that he feels uncomfortable being categorised as a munshid — the Arabic word for a singer of Islamic songs. "My music is not for Muslims only. It's for all human beings," he said.
Yusuf said his objective is to take his music to the masses and be able to bridge the gap between the East and the West. "What this album is about is bringing people closer together," he added.
In September, Yusuf released the single ‘Hear Your Call' to raise money in support of the victims of the floods in Pakistan.
"We've raised quite a lot of money for the victims of Pakistan, but I think more importantly is the raising of awareness," he said. "Pakistan has earned, wrongfully of course, a reputation because of the Taliban and the negative media coverage, but in fact Pakistan is an incredible country with an incredible culture," he said.
"Part of my mission was to raise the awareness and talk about Pakistan and take away from that stigma and say that Pakistan is not the Taliban."
Go get yours
Sami Yusuf's Wherever You Are is now available in stores.