The Voice of Dubai Ahmad Haffar turns to comedy

The 28-year reveals why he is drawn to dark humour


Ambica Sachin

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Published: Fri 10 Jun 2022, 10:55 AM

Last updated: Mon 13 Jun 2022, 5:04 PM

What’s in a voice, you ask? In an increasingly audio-sensory world where we are constantly stimulated by all kinds of sounds around us, a person’s voice takes on a character of its own.

And if you’re a regular metro user or have been a loyal Expo 2020 visitor, then obviously Ahmad Haffar’s voice would be a familiar one for you.

Haffar who started off his journey as a music coach, producer and composer is a well known voice in the region having fronted many audio-visual promotions for local brands, including Rixos Hotels and Nature Valley.

Drawn to dark humour from an early age, the 28-year old Lebanese soon turned to stand-up comedy to express his emotions. Haffar recently made his stand-up debut with Rated R on STARZPLAY where fans can catch him performing in front of a live audience. Excerpts from an interview with the multi-talented artist.

You are known as 'The Voice of Dubai'. In a world where we are constantly programmed to respond to sounds, be it over the phone or social media, do you believe your voice has taken over an identity of its own? How do you feel about that?

Without an inch of a doubt. Creating different tones that are custom-made for each and every client to create consistency has given birth to what is now known as ‘’The Voice of Dubai." There’s incredible talents out there, but due to my sonic branding (jingles for companies) being made from scratch, I applied that on my voice and it worked. I’d like to consider myself as someone who constantly innovates, rather than do whatever has already been done.

What can fans expect from your first stand-up comedy special Rated R on STARZPLAY? Is this a field you have always been drawn to?

Fans can expect a good time. Straight up. Something they can enjoy and relate to. It’s not about me only and my life, even though some parts really are, haha! It’s mainly catered towards people hanging around and relating to some of the things in Dubai, or if they’re from Lebanon. It’s just a good time, really! As for the name, it’s rare for R-Rated shows to come from this part of the world, but I believe in freedom in art, as long as you’re respecting the country’s customs while still achieving your essence in growth by being who you really are. It’s a real title, for me! Already thinking about the title for the next one. Maybe Ahmad Haffar – How Far? Haha, let’s see!

You started your career as a music coach, producer and composer; as such what is the most valuable asset a person can possess to succeed in the creative field?

All of them. I write slogans, voice different brands, make the music for entire brands for 5-10 years of their life cycle by coming up with concepts from literal scratch and digging my way into the brains of millions. That’s why, with Rated R, I’ve done the same thing, focus on what makes me feel truly free. Comedy.

Ahmad, your career trajectory shows that innovation is the only way to succeed in today’s world. What role has the UAE and Dubai played in your success according to you?

The UAE is a forward-thinking country. It truly is, the growth I’ve seen since I’ve been here, well over half a decade now, has shown no hint of stopping, or slowing down, and I say let’s do it! Let’s grow the biggest trees, laugh the hardest and smile every single day. This is an incredible place to me, with Rated-R going around the Middle East right now, it will only attract more people towards Dubai and its innovation in art.

You were the sole survivor of a car accident at the age of 17. It’s mentioned as part of your profile - in what way has that pushed you in your career and your life journey. If you could revisit yourself in the aftermath of the tragedy, what advice would you give yourself?

I’d tell myself the same thing I did back then; there’s no going back. Ever since I was young, I always felt out of place a bit... in school, hanging out with most people I met, and everywhere in-between.

I’ve always been a loner, in a sense, I am my best self when I am alone. And during my year in the hospital, I was very, very alone. My lovely mom, Safsaf, as I’d like to call her, was there by me for every single minute (I’m not even joking), yet I felt so alone. Losing my best friends, not having an education, which scared me at the time, it was a truly horrible place.

I wouldn’t wish such a horrible incident even on my worst enemy. Funny thing about enemies, you make them faster than friends, and usually for sillier reasons, too. Just focus on your own growth, push through every single day. And seriously, WAKE UP in the morning, don’t just rush out.

Is dark humour something you have always been attracted to? Who do you consider your inspiration in this field?

Without a doubt, I grew up with dark humour as an escape for the issues we faced in Lebanon, including all the famous wars everyone has heard of. It was an escape for me, to take something people considered very serious and just laugh about it. It helped me a long way.

My inspiration is mainly just allowing myself to notice the details people miss out on, as they are too busy to appreciate life for the simplicity that it truly brings. I’d much rather be laughing at silly stuff and then writing jokes about them than just be serious all the time. I co-run a company and already am building my start-up, while making major music for brands and voicing stuff. When do you think I relax? This is it. Comedy.

As a stand-up do you have any topics you like to steer clear from?

Yes, without a doubt. No matter how much you push, you should also, always, respect people’s vision on life and their beliefs. There is a fine line between delivering something you think is funny and something that is legitimately funny. People forget that and get in trouble. Other times, people are a bit too sensitive. I think we should all just have some Karak Chai, two spoons of sugar for me please... Preferably the Dh2 one, the fancy ones don’t taste no good!

In a post Covid world where people have faced so many setbacks in what way can comedy bring about change?

My life changed for the better post Covid, somehow. Everything started getting better and better, and when I found myself with a bit of free time, I knew comedy was the next step for me. I consider this show, Rated R, to be a stepping stone in my career, with (much) more to come.

What is the bigger purpose of your comedy? Other than a mood lifter and an instant laugh inducer, what do you hope to communicate to your audience?

Good question. I want them to know that life is not to be taken so seriously, and traditions are meant to be embraced. I feel like I’m building a new, fresh style in comedy around the area that can take audiences on a good journey, something to help them disconnect and learn a few things along the way, that is if I’m not making up stories entirely, haha!

You have a voice that makes people stop and listen. What is the magic behind it?

The fact I never thought I had a good voice. As soon as I discovered my lower tone (that has earned me the title ‘The Voice of Dubai') – I believe the way I read out things and pace them has a unique delivery to it. I guess it’s because I taught myself the voice thing. I don’t know. But I know that the school I am building will increase everyone’s chances by 10,000x fold.

Now that you make people laugh for a living, who makes Ahmad Haffar laugh?

Haha, here’s a list:

Going to a restaurant almost an hour away just to find out the ONE THING I WENT THERE FOR is sold out.

My mom sending me TikTok memes on WhatsApp.

My brother calling me weekly saying a new form of a joke around, “So, are you in Antarctica or Dubai? Because you can’t seem to make time to see your niece.”

I love those, they make me laugh so hard!

Catch Ahmad Haffar’s stand-up show Rated R on STARZPLAY

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