Ghaith Al Hayem
Ghaith Al Hayem is an Airbus A380 pilot with Emirates; his songs have attracted millions of views on YouTube Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Ghaith Al Hayem is an Airbus A380 pilot with Emirates airline by profession and a singer by passion, with his songs garnering millions of views on YouTube.

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On February 13, the 35-year-old Emirati won the hearts of thousands of Indian expats at the Ahlan Modi event in Abu Dhabi as he along with Dubai-based Indian student Suchetha Satish, 18, sang a fusion song in Hindi and Arabic at the grand public reception organised for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The crowd at Zayed Sports City Stadium erupted in cheers when Al Hayem appeared on stage in a kandoura and started singing along with Suchetha, who holds the Guinness World Record for singing in 140 languages.

Ghaith Al Hayem (centre) and Suchetha Satish (left) during their performance at Ahlan Modi event
Ghaith Al Hayem (centre) and Suchetha Satish (left) during their performance at Ahlan Modi event Image Credit: Supplied

The applause got louder when he sang the 80’s Bollywood hit song ‘Tere jaisa yaar kahaan’, which reflects on the rarity of finding genuine friendship, drawing parallels to strong UAE-India ties. Waving the flags of both countries, the crowd continued to cheer when the duo sang the Arabic part of the fusion song composed by renowned music director Hatem Mansour.

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Clips of their performance went viral on social media, with at least one getting over 4.3 million views on Instagram.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Al Hayem shared his delight over his debut performance in front of such a huge crowd and gave insights into his journey as a multifaceted artist and aviator.

He said he was overwhelmed by the response. “Honestly, I was so happy to see how people were reacting to my singing in Arabic and Hindi,” Al Hayem said. “It was a great opportunity and a nice surprise.”

Representing Indo-UAE friendship

Al Hayem said he was particularly happy to showcase the centuries-old friendship between Indians and Emiratis.

“We have been friends for many, many years. Indians are part of the UAE’s great growth story just as we Emiratis are,” he said.

Al Hayem specifically thanked Emirates for backing his participation in the Ahlan Modi event. “Usually, I keep my job and passion separate,” he explained. “I always plan my recordings and events on holidays. I had a flight scheduled on the day of the event, but they granted me emergency leave when I told them about the event.”

Al Hayem joined the aviation industry as a trainee in 2008 and became a pilot with Emirates in 2010.

Singing since childhood

Al Hayem began singing at the age of nine. But it was not until 2012 that he officially launched his music career with his debut song ‘Ya Roh Rohi’.

“Unfortunately, that was not on my YouTube channel and that channel got deleted later. I need to get it republished,” he said.

Despite the demands of his profession, Al Hayem has released around 20 songs over the years.

He has primarily focused on singles rather than full-length albums due to time constraints. “I have four or five songs coming up for release after Ramadan. One will be a music video,” said Al Hayem, who also pens the lyrics and composes music for many of his songs.

Though he has collaborated with Arab musicians and composers, this was for the first time that he worked with an Indian singer.

“Suchetha is amazing. She taught me the Hindi lyrics, their meaning and pronunciation. Now, I am inspired to sing more in Hindi and try singing in some other languages as well,” Al Hayem said.

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(from left) Ghaith Al Hayem, Suchetha Satish and Hatem Al Mansour during a rehearsal of the fusion song Image Credit: Supplied

Dream moment

The Ahlan Modi event was also a dream-come-true moment for Suchetha. A theme music video sung by her and composed by Bollywood music director Monty Sharma was also released at the event.

She was thrilled when she became the only singer to perform for Modi at a welcome ceremony organised at a hotel.

“After her short performance at the St Regis Abu Dhabi, the prime minister walked up to her and applauded her performance. We are grateful to the Almighty and for the blessings of well-wishers for this unforgettable day,” her father Dr T.C. Satish said.