Up Close And Confidential With Haifa Wehbe
The former Miss South Lebanon has millions of fans, from everyday folks to celebrity admirers. She is the original glamour symbol of the Middle East. She shows others that they should be original, yet they just keep copying her.
Haifa is an incredibly strong symbol of empowerment, especially for women. She’s alluring. She’s beautiful. She’s a magnet. People love her style, her music, the power of her personality and her honesty. Whether in Beirut, Paris or Los Angeles, people respond to her.
There is something attractive about a woman who successfully deals with the criticism in her life and somehow emerges more grateful than bitter. Haifa gives you a different piece of herself with every interview, appearance and performance. You can almost feel where she is in her life with each word. Not many artists can capture an audience the way she does.
She has traveled the spectrum of the entertainment industry, moving from beauty pageants to modeling and then singing. All the while, she’s kept us on the edge of our seats, anticipating her next captivating move. Get acquainted with Haifa, and you too will see that she is the sexiest woman in the world for more than just her looks…
1. Tell us about your singing career. Was this part of a master strategy or did it evolve in the natural course of your life?
I love music. My friend Jean-Marie Riachi [composer and distributor] said to me, “Haifa, enrich yourself and embrace the idea.” At the beginning, he had to urge and encourage my singing career. He kept after me and finally convinced me. He came up with my first song “Aqoul Ahwak” (“I Say I Love You”), a mixture of Arabic melody and Spanish rhythms. This song was rahja (big), and this was the beginning.
2. What was your experience with your reality television show “Al Wadi”?
The experience on “Al Wadi” (The Valley”) was incredible. It meant entering a difficult living situation for the first time. I was scared of the idea at the start, but the challenge of living in the country was something I had to try.
Living in difficult circumstances without all of the available things you are normally guaranteed is not easy. Other people go through this every day. We were occupied with taking care of the animals, baking and more. All of this was new to me and the others on the show. I made so many new friendships and new friends from different countries.
3. You seem to move back and forth between small concert “party” venues and the larger stadium/festival arenas. Which do you prefer?
I prefer big concerts, of course, because the audience is bigger, excitement is bigger and they participate with you while performing.
4. Recently at Cannes you appeared with Omar Sharif. How did that come about?
I like Omar Sharif and admire him as an actor, and when I was invited to Cannes to attend the festival with him, I was the happiest girl on earth and loved the idea. Besides, I loved the pictures taken of us on the red carpet.
5. You have long said that the media persona that has developed around you isn’t the “real” Haifa. Who is the real Haifa?
This developed because they don’t know Haifa as a person. They know me as a singer. The media says good things about me, but when I succeeded in my singing career, I realized that I had some enemies there. Everyone is free to think the way they want, and I can’t stop them. People, and especially my fans, know, and can differentiate between Haifa the singer and Haifa the person.
6. Tell us about your children’s charities and how you came to be a part of them?
I don’t only help children. I help every person who is in need, and I’m here whenever they need me. Why not if you can afford it?
7. Considering how hard you have worked to be proactive in the community, why do rumors seem to follow you?
I don’t care about rumors, because I’m much stronger now and I don’t have much time. Besides, people who are criticizing me are people who are against my success, and I don’t have to give them any importance or even answer them.
8. What do you do to eliminate that negative publicity?
I don’t do anything at all. I answer them indirectly by showing them my good work and success.
9. Apart from the music, you recently launched your own jewelry line. How did it come about?
This was a dream of mine for a long time. I went to Switzerland and learned how to draw and design with my friend Pascal Mouawad. He is one of the top jewelry stylists and designers in the world. I tested the tastes of the public and came up with the designs. Placing the “H” on the product was something everyone liked.
10. You seem to be everywhere. How do you keep your schedule so full without tiring out?
There are people who help me and work with me all the time, and we try as much as we can to rest during our spare time in order to stay in good shape and save some energy.
11. Are you working on any new endorsement contracts? What is your involvement there?
18. What do you do in your spare time, if you have any?
I receive many contracts from very well known companies, but recently I’ve signed a contract with a huge company in order to represent one of its products. But I can’t talk about it right now.
12. Which entertainer would you like to work with?
13. If you could work with any singer or performer from any era, who would it be?
I’d love to work or perform with Madonna, Ricky Martin and Puff Daddy.
14. Do you have any plans or desires to attempt a crossover career into the mainstream American music scene?
I’d love to, but I’m waiting for the right time and opportunity.
15. Why do men adore you so much?
Because I’m cute.
16. Has it ever gotten you into any trouble?
Yes, many times.
17. Have your charm and style ever been an obstacle in your career?
On the contrary, they were my passport to overcoming the doubts expressed by others. The beauty on the inside is what matters most, because the outside alone is not enough. You have to work hard to get what you want. Your intelligence and perseverance of important matters is what should drive you.
18. What do you do in your spare time, if you have any?
I try to sleep as much as I can. I read and watch DVDs or comedy channels. I also exercise and visit some close friends.
19. Travel from the U.S. to Lebanon has been on the upswing. What would you tell first time visitors to Lebanon?
I’d tell them that they are visiting the most beautiful country in the world. They should come and enjoy their time because it’s the right place to be.
20. How do you want to be remembered in your career?
I want to be remembered as “Haifa,” the symbol of beauty, joy and good music.