Egypt Musicians Syndicate suspends permits to non-union Mahraganat singers; to investigate bribery allegations

Eslam Omar , Sunday 16 Oct 2022

Egypt’s Musicians Syndicate, which authorises public performances, has suspended the issuing of permits to the hugely popular and controversial Mahraganat singers until artistic criteria are regulated and bribery allegations are investigated.

Mostafa Kamel
Egyptian singer and songwriter Mostafa Kamel announces Mahraganat suspension during his first press conference as the new elected Musician Syndicate president, Sunday 16 October 2022, Cairo


The decision was announced by the syndicate board during a press conference at its headquarters on Sunday to introduce newly-elected union president Mostafa Kamel.

Kamel, 52, who was elected on Tuesday, is set to finish the term of former president Hany Shaker, who resigned following a dispute between a Mahraganat singer and the head of the drummers’ section in the union.

The press conference was attended by hundreds of the general assembly members, as well as journalists and reporters from the majority of local newspapers and TV channels.

“The temporary suspension of Mahraganat singers will remain in effect until a discussion is conducted between the board and music and cultural icons to study the phenomenon and to define regulating criteria [for its output],” announced Kamel, stressing the importance of “preserving the Egyptian artistic leadership and upgrading of public taste.”

The suspension covers non-union artists who are working under temporary licenses.

Mahraganat singers have faced licensing difficulties since the genre broke into the mainstream during the last decade.

Amid gaining millions of streams for their songs across all music platforms, Mahraganat singers have been slammed by many in the public for promoting drug-use, sexual content, violence and offensive lyrics.

Corruption allegations

Meanwhile, the Musicians Syndicate board is forming committees – that will also include membership of judges – to investigate allegations made by Mahranagat and Shaabi singers, accusing a number of the syndicate’s board members and employees of demanding funds “in order to authorise their performances.”

Kamel spoke in strong words about some practices that the board considers “administrative deviations,” calling for investigating allegations of “corruption, bribes and abuse of power” that were done by members he named and described as “a family that spoiled the syndicate’s work."

The board has suspended and called for investigations of a number of board members and employees to question them over different accusations and complaints regarding Mahraganat and Shaabi singers’ licenses, in addition to other issues.

Moreover, among the decisions announced were a 10 percent raise in members’ pensions in November and another 10 percent in January, with a promise of more raises in the near future.

Various increases in maximum benefits from medical insurance have also been announced, in addition to easing other regulations and increasing subventions for member deaths from EGP 3,000 to EGP 5,000.

The board has also extended the grace period for paying late membership fees to five years.

Syndicate and Mahraganat

Most known for hits like Teslam El-Aiady, Eshta Yaba, Oul Ya Rab, Kamel is serving his second spell at the helm of the syndicate following a first tenure between 2013 and 2015, where he also filled for Iman El-Bahr Darwish.

In late June, Hany Shaker, 69, resigned from his post following a heated debate during a press conference over the reinstatement of Hassan Shakoosh to the syndicate.

Shaker was first elected as the syndicate’s head in 2015, before winning the elections and serving another term in 2019.

Granting Mahraganat singers permits to perform publicly has been one of the major challenges Shaker had faced in recent years.

Facing powerful confrontations since its establishment back in 1942 following an initiative by Oum Kalthoum, the musician syndicate was conceived with the aim of tackling problems faced by musicians and singers.

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