Young Omani pilot revives his passion for ‘Afrabian’ pop
Some dream of flying high, others set lofty ambitions, but there are, indeed, a few whose aspirations take wing when they actually ride the clouds! And Hamdan al Zakwani is one of these who has carved a niche for himself in the world of music in Arabia by simply following the chords within his heart with great precision.
A talented young singer, song- writer and pilot, who flies for one of the most prestigious airlines in the world, Hamdan is known as ‘DanZak’ among recording artistes and his fans. He has not only introduced a new genre of music – Afrabian pop – but has also made millions of youngsters swoon to his catchy numbers over the past decade.
“Afrabian pop is a new generation genre of music, which I have introduced combining Afro beats with Arabian melodies. The lyrics are light and catchy and the beats are empowering, both of which together create sheer magic,” Hamdan told TheWeek. He is currently working on many singles exclusively for audiences in Oman, in association with a few local artistes to awaken a love for music among the new gen- eration while keeping intact the cultural heritage of the sultanate.
Hamdan, who was born in Africa but came to Oman as a teenager in 2007, disclosed that he actually took to writing songs and singing sometime in 2006 when he launched his first single – Nafissa – which went on to become an instant hit.
Nafissa was a love song which showcased his deep passion as a budding singer, and by combining Arabic melodies to suit the East African market, he was able to offer something that was new and made him popular as a young singer. In 2009, with the onset of social media, his journey ahead became easier as he was able to reach a wider audience and become a household name in Africa as well as Arabia.
Hamdan decided to take up a challenging career as a pilot some- time in 2009, choosing to attend a flying school in Australia where he acquired a commercial flying licence. And like most pilots say, he quipped, ‘it was a childhood dream.’ However, he did add that earning the licence was not an easy task as he neither had sound financial backing nor influential contacts. He had to take a bank loan to fulfill his ambition and has been devoting himself to the profession in all sincerity.
In 2017, after flying to most parts of the world and having collected over 4,000 flying hours, Hamdan finally decided that it was time to convert his hobby of singing into business. He revived his production and entertainment company, Music Masterpiece and is seriously working on making it a label to reckon with.
His first single after the revival – Fallin’ – was released in December 2018 and was produced by KrizBeatz from Nigeria while his latest singles this year – Kichaa and Go Down Low – released just last month.
Hamdan draws inspiration from everything around him and says that different moods help an artiste conceive songs that reflect different sentiments.
Hamdan feels that the style of music in the Middle East has not changed over the past few decades. However, he is trying to build DanZak as a local brand with an international appeal so that it not only injects new life into the region’s music scene, but also encourages the younger generation to take bold steps ahead in this creative field.
Being an airline pilot since 2013, Hamdan says that it was very important for him to maintain a healthy lifestyle and get adequate sleep everyday, though he has to make many compromises to further his singing initiatives. Nevertheless, he never mixes his career with his passion, as both have different demands.
“There are times when inspiration for new songs comes while I’m flying to a destination. But I try to jot it down as soon as it is possible to do so,” says Hamdan. Though it is creditable for fans to know that their loved musician is also a pilot, Hamdan becomes a totally different person once he wears his uniform.
As a message to talented youth in Oman, Hamdan says, “Stay passionate about what you like to do and never give up. Most importantly, have a strategy, draw up your plans and go for them diligently, step by step. If one plan does not work out, one can try another but one must never give up on one’s passion.”
He also cautioned parents against stifling their children’s aspirations and called for encouraging them to follow their own dreams. Everyone deserves to do what he/she can best do, Hamdan asserted.
I like music and flying
I dislike dishonesty
I love African food, especially Zanzibari
I hate people who do not value time
Favourite city Muscat
Best moment while in the air at 43,000 feet
Most disappointing moment I am never disappointed as I set no expectations
To me, singing is… Life!
When i’m lonely, i… write new songs
To me, Oman is… the most beautiful country in the world
My ambition is to pursue music on an international scale so as to give back to the community and provide young talents an opportunity
In July 2006, DanZak released his first solo single, Nafissa. The song was sung in Swahili and produced at G Records studios in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
In 2009, his singles – Wifey, My Girl and Omani Queen – became highly popular after his friends uploaded YouTube videos of the same.
In early 2009, DanZak went to Australia to study Aviation where he subsequently gained his commercial pilot license. During his time abroad, he wrote, recorded and produced over 30 songs which were released online, thereby substantially growing his loyal fan base in Australia, East Africa as well as in the Middle East.
DanZak had also signed up on international pop icon, Akon’s Hitlab, a website which offered contestants a chance to showcase their own songs, with the winner receiving the opportunity to be signed to Akon’s label. He managed to hold the number one spot on Hitlab for an unprecedented