These days, Dutch house producer R3HAB is looking past borders and across the seas for inspiration.
His songs usually fit along nicely with those of fellow Dutch DJs like Afrojack and Hardwell, delivering pulsing beats with a pop flourish. But recently he teamed up with a force from farther south—Egyptian superstar Amr Diab, whose warm, lively croon sails over sparkly synths and a syncopated Dutch thump on a remix of Diab’s 2019 hit “Youm Talat.”
Mixing music of different cultures is often easier said than done, but for R3HAB, this and other recent globe-trotting collaborations came about naturally. “I love the Middle East. I love Southeast Asia. I love India. I love the food, I love the culture, I love the people,” the 34-year-old DJ and producer tells For the Record. “I always listen to all types of music, so it doesn’t matter where it’s from. Spotify stimulates this with their playlists from music all around the world. I just turn those on, and I don’t try to put what I hear in a box.” R3HAB’s appetite for music from all around the world is on full display in his new track—a collaborative cover of the Radiohead song “Creep” featuring DJ/producer/remixer GATTÜSO. Their creative take on the rock classic is the first-ever “mint Singles,” a spin-off of the popular Spotify Singles series and companion to our flagship dance playlist, mint.
Born Fadil El Ghoul, R3HAB grew up in the southern Netherlands city of Breda, where Hardwell also grew up. Dutch house has long had an eclectic streak—Afrojack’s “Moombah” remix was the source code for the freaky fusions of moombahton, after all. And R3HAB takes his own free-flowing approach to dance music, borrowing and reinventing at will.
But he hit a whole new level of cultural engagement when he performed last year at MDL Beast, a massive music festival in Riyadh where R3HAB delivered show-stopping performances. Tens of thousands of fans sang along as he laid down remixes and pumping beats for the likes of Egyptian star Mohamed Hamaki and Saudi legend Rabeh Saqer.
Diab also appeared onstage at MDL Beast, where he and R3HAB unveiled the remix of “Youm Talat.” R3HAB loved the idea of working with the Egyptian great; his mom is a huge fan, and he’s made an indelible mark on pop music from Cairo to Times Square. Diab reached out to R3HAB before the Riyadh festival, sending him the studio recordings of the track and other songs so the younger artist could rebuild them as remixes.
The original “Youm Talat” bursts with Diab’s trademark Mediterranean rhythms and lovestruck lyrics sung in the Egyptian dialect. On the remix, R3HAB keeps Diab’s vocals—instantly recognizable to any fan of Arab pop—but swaps out the Andalusian accordion and Cairo party beat for a silky-smooth sound fit for the peak hours of a late-night dance party. “We made a totally new version with a totally different feel, and he loved it so much,” R3HAB says. “We’re actually working on more music now.”
In addition to reworking Diab’s music, R3HAB teamed up recently with Indian songwriter Qaran Mehta to record “Ki Kehna,” a nightclub ballad that combines Dutch house with swooning Bollywood pop. It’s projects like these that distinguish R3HAB as a global-minded innovator.
“R3HAB is a really talented DJ and producer, building his career very well over the last years,” says Wilbert Mutsaers, Spotify Head of Music Benelux. “He’s in our perspective one of the most hardworking, friendly, and motivated Dutch DJs we know, and also very actively involved in promoting his own music and collabs.”
Indeed, wherever R3HAB is, he’s always hungry for new sounds and collaborators. “It’s actually similar to my food,” he says. “I like to taste all kitchens all around the world.”