Michel Elefteriades

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Michel Elefteriades
Michel Elefteriades
Background information
Birth name Michel Elefteriades
Born (1970-06-22) 22 June 1970 (age 44)
Origin Beirut, Lebanon
Genres World music
Occupation(s) Politician
Labels elef.Records
Associated acts Galvez
Tony Hanna
Hanine Y Son Cubano
Chehade Brothers
Wadih El Safi
José Fernandez
Demis Roussos
Tania Saleh
Bilal the Gipsy Prince
The Oriental Roots Orchestra
The National Orchestra of Nowheristan

Michel Elefteriades (in Arabic ميشال ألفتريادس, in Greek Μιχαήλ Ελευθεριάδης) (born 22 June 1970) is a Greek-Lebanese politician, artist,[1] producer [2] and entrepreneur.[3] He is noted in the Arab world for his unorthodox beliefs and opinions, which have generated controversy and ignited passionate responses from his supporters and detractors alike.

Education and background[edit]

With a Lebanese mother and a father of Byzantine Greek descent (who is the grandnephew of Saint Chrysostomos Kalafatis, Metropolitan Bishop of Smyrna), the Lebanese born Elefteriades speaks six languages and is well traveled. He studied Fine Arts and Advertising in Nantes, France, and holds a Masters Degree in Graphic Design and Communication Arts from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA).

Music and show business career[edit]

Elefteriades is an author and composer of more than 120 songs for such European and Arab artists as: Tony Hanna, Demis Roussos, Jean-Jacques Lafon, Nahawand, Hanine Y Son Cubano, Sébastien El Chato, Jose Gàlvez, Jose Fernandez, as well as a collective work featuring Saber Rebaï, Moein Sharif, Wadih El Safi, and Mohamad el Mazem. Elefteriades is considered an Arab pioneer of World Music fusion.[4]

As a music producer and song arranger, some of his creations are considered successful musical experiments in the Arab world.[5]

A few of these are:

He has directed a number of music videos, for such artists as Galvez,[18] Demis Roussos,[19] Tony Hanna,[20][21] The Chehade Brothers,[22] Hanine Y Son Cubano,[23][24] Nahawand, Tania Saleh, José Fernandez, Abdel Karim Chaar, Yusra, Rom Bakhtale, Tino Favazza.[25][26][27][28] Elefteriades has also directed documentaries about Tony Hanna and on the life of Nahawand.

Events organization[edit]

In 1999, Elefteriades founded the "Mediterraneo Byblos International Festival", and was its director from 1999 to 2003. He wrote, composed and directed the 2004 "The Journey of Four Songs",[29][30] a musical for the Baalbeck International Festival.

In 2003, Elefteriades founded the "Beirut Music Hall", an 800-seat venue specializing in a unique concept that made it a night-clubbing destination in the Middle East.[31]

In 2013, a second branch of MusicHall was opened in Dubai, UAE.[32][33][34][35]

In that same year Elefteriades also opened "MusicHall Waterfront" in Beirut, an open air venue near Downtown Beirut's sea side.[36]


Elefteriades is founder and co-owner of "Elef.Records", a former Warner Music label[37] which has produced the following albums:

  • Bilal The Gipsy PrinceLive At The MusicHall
  • The Chehade Brothers – A Bridge Over the Mediterranean and "Live At The MusicHall"[38][39]
  • Hanine Y Son Cubano – Arabo-Cuban, 10908 and The Festivals Album[40][41][42][43][44][45]
  • Jose Fernandez – Makhlouta[46]
  • Jose Gálvez & the National Orchestra of Nowheristan[47][48]
  • Lautaris
  • MIchel Elefteriades – L’Empereur chante – self-produced
  • Mounir El Khawli – The Dragon of Tarab[49]
  • Nahawand[50]
  • Tania Saleh[51]
  • Tony Hanna & the Yugoslavian Gipsy Brass Band – My Village, Lost Somewhere Between Beograd And Baghdad[52][53]
  • Wadih El Safi & Jose Fernandez[54]


Elefteriades appeared as judge for two seasons on The X Factor, XSeer Al Najah (the Arabic version of The X Factor), in 2006 and 2007, which earned him the sobriquet of "the Arabian Simon Cowell".[55]

In 2012, Elefteriades produced and created Western/Oriental fusion songs for Coke Studio, a music television series in the Middle East and North Africa featuring performances by various established Arab and international music artists brought together to collaborate and record original fusion songs meshing two or more unique music genres.

Although carrying the same name, Coke Studio Pakistan and Coke Studio Middle East have very little in common after all the changes that Elefteriades brought to the original format.[56]

Featured artists were: Wadih El Safi (Lebanon), Nancy Ajram (Lebanon), José Galvez (Spain), The Chehade Brothers (Palestine/Lebanon), tenor Tino Favazza (Italy), DJ Jerry Ropero (Belgium/Spain), Mohamed Hamaki (Egypt), Mohamed Mounir (Egypt), Shontelle (Barbados), The Wailers (Jamaica/USA), The Yugoslavian Gipsy Brass Band (Serbia), Bilal (Lebanon), Rouwaida Attieh (Syria), Yara (Lebanon), Jannat (Morocco), Jay Sean (UK), Saber Rebaï (Tunisia), Fabián Bertero (Argentina) and Cairokee (Egypt).

Fine arts[edit]

As a painter, his works have been presented at several collective exhibitions in France, Germany and Lebanon. In 1995, he presented The Wailing Wall, a 10x2 meters piece of art, at a special edition of the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs that took place in the Beirut Central District (instead of its customary location at Paris’ Grand Palais). This showing produced such controversy that it required special protection.


Elefteriades is the author of two novels, one of which was banned in the Arab world.


Elefteriades has engaged in political activism from the age of 15. He was an extreme left-wing militant growing up in east Beirut. In 1989, Elefteriades committed himself to the political movement of then Lebanese Prime Minister, General Michel Aoun.[57]


A M.U.R. poster
Main article: M.U.R.

On 13 October 1990, Syrian forces launched an attack on the Lebanese army, defeating General Aoun; and occupied what still remained of Lebanon’s free territory. Elefteriades fled to France. In 1991, he came back to Lebanon and founded the Unified Movements of the Resistance (or M.U.R.), which he led until 1994. M.U.R. was a clandestine, armed group whose stated goal was fighting Lebanon's occupation by foreign armies. Elefteriades was often involved in organizing general strikes designed to paralyze the country. M.U.R. was considered an illegal labor organization[58] and its activities often had to be implemented secretively.

During this period, Elefteriades was the intended victim of two assassination attempts. The first one destroyed his car with a booby-trap; the second attempt targeted him in an armed ambush.[59][60] He again left Lebanon, living in France and Cuba from 1994 until 1997.[61]

Elefteriades was active in Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution as he co-organized, in April 2005, a series of festivities to celebrate national unity, including a program of free concerts that took place in downtown Beirut under the heading of "Independence 05".


On 8 October 2007, during a press conference commemorating Che Guevara's capture 40 years earlier, Elefteriades launched a public campaign called "We Won’t Pay Lebanon’s Odious Debts".[62] The action was meant to put pressure on the state to take action on Lebanon’s unprecedented public debt of about 40 billion US Dollars, which, at the time of the press conference, was the highest debt to GDP ratio in the world.[63] The main objective of the campaign was to raise awareness inside and outside of the country about the nature of Lebanon's loans with the end goal of abolishing its debt. (This odious debt was incurred between 1993 and 2005, while Lebanon was under foreign occupation.) As a result of his activities, the Association of Banks in Lebanon called for the prosecution of Elefteriades, viewing him as a threat to Lebanon's financial stability.[64]

The Lebanese Army[edit]

Michel Elefteriades with the commanders of battalions and regiments of the Lebanese army.

Due to his military past and involvement with the army,[65] Michel Elefteriades has strong ties to high-ranked Lebanese army officers.

He is very often seen at military ceremonies and in army gatherings, as well as relentlessly defending the army on TV shows.[66][67][68][69][70][71]

To this effect, Elefteriades has launched a campaign calling for military regime in Lebanon [72] on the country's number one talk show "Kalam Ennas" [73][74] which gave ground to the rumours that Elefteriades has been planning a military coup.[75]

Samir Geagea's lawsuit[edit]

Michel Elefteriades talking to the press upon his exit from the courthouse.

Samir Geagea has filed a lawsuit against Michel Elefteriades on grounds of libel and defamation for calling him a "criminal" on a radio show. The first hearing was on 30 September 2013 and the second hearing is set to 11 November 2013. Samir Geagea had been convicted with murder charges, and he admitted killing Prime Minister Rachid Karameh.[76]

Social commitments[edit]

Emperor Michel I of Nowheristan

In spring 2005, Elefteriades co-organized a concert in Beirut, presenting some of the biggest names in Arab music: Nancy Ajram, Wadih El Safi, Myriam Fares, Ramy Ayach, Marwan Khoury, Amal Hijazi The entire proceeds of the event were forwarded, through the United Nations, to the South East Asia Tsunami victims.[77] That same year he organized a free concert by the National Orchestra of "Nowheristan" at the UNESCO Palace, in collaboration with the United Nations, to celebrate the International Day of Peace.[78]

In 2006, he was a founding member of Pan-Arab Cultural Icons (or WAYYAK), an NGO which stated mission is to influence disadvantaged Arab neighborhoods through exposure to Arab celebrities.[79]

Nowheristan promotion[edit]

Elefteriades envisioned a new social, philosophical, political and cultural approach in his 'founding' of a new nation he named "Nowheristan", which is dedicated to justice, liberation, and equality.[80][81][82][83][84][85] The proclamation of the "Great Empire of Nowheristan" received the support of the United Nations and the Lebanese Minister of Culture.[86][87][88] Thousands from around the world having applied for citizenship.[89]

Elefteriades', with his self-styled title, "His Imperial Highness Michel I of Nowheristan," promotes his creation with articles, interviews and PR in numerous international media, including: CNN,[90] BBC, France 3 Méditerranée,[91] France 24,[92] TV5, TVE2,[93] Al-Jazeera,[94] Los Angeles Times,[95] Der Spiegel,[96] La Vanguardia,[97] Paris-Match, L'Orient Le Jour, Daily Star, Hurriyet,[98] Al-Ahram,[99] Asharq Al-Awsat,[100] De Standaard.[101]


  1. ^ Bold Magazine, A Utopian World Apart
  2. ^ Al Akhbar English
  3. ^ New York Times article
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times article
  5. ^ Video of Report on Al Jazeera (English)
  6. ^ Video of Report on Al Jazeera
  7. ^ Article on Now Lebanon
  8. ^ Article in "Time Out, Beirut"
  9. ^ Wadih El Safi, Video on Future TV show
  10. ^ National Geographic World Music
  11. ^ http://www.womex.com/virtual/elefteriades/wadih_el_safi_jose
  12. ^ "The Beast" video
  13. ^ A biography
  14. ^ http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Art/2003/Aug-27/104397-elefteriades-popularizes-a-fusion-of-music-styles-from-different-cultures.ashx#axzz3KC1a73St
  15. ^ Report on Jazeera
  16. ^ National Geographic World Music
  17. ^ World Music Expo
  18. ^ "Galvez – "Tengo" Video". Youtube. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  19. ^ "GDemis Roussos – "The Beast" Video". Youtube. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  20. ^ Elefrecords (16 May 2008). "Tony Hanna – "Dall'ouna" Video". Youtube. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  21. ^ Tony Hanna on LBC
  22. ^ Elefrecords (16 May 2008). "The Chehade Brothers – "Sitti" Video". Youtube. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  23. ^ Rahou video
  24. ^ "Hanine Y Son Cubano – "Beirut-Havana" Video". Youtube. 29 December 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  25. ^ The Godfather
  26. ^ Tino Favazza – "Aatini El Nay Wa Ghanni" Video
  27. ^ Article in "Time Out, Beirut"
  28. ^ Beirut Nightlife
  29. ^ Baalbeck International Festival Highlights (2004)
  30. ^ Article in Al-Mustaqbal (Arabic)
  31. ^ Documentary on Al Jazeera (English)
  32. ^ http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/business/2014/10/24/spc-marketplace-middle-east-michel-elefteriades.cnn.html
  33. ^ Article in Gulf News
  34. ^ Article in Time Out Dubai
  35. ^ Article in My Metro Talk Dubai
  36. ^ http://www.france24.com/fr/20141025-paris-des-arts-liban-beyrouth-tania-saleh-alexandre-paulikevitch-sarah-beydoun-selim-mouzannar/
  37. ^ Asharq Al-Awsat article (Arabic)
  38. ^ "BBC Radio 3 Awards". BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  39. ^ Album featured on Yala.fm
  40. ^ Album on CdUniverse.com
  41. ^ Album on Fnac.com
  42. ^ Album featured in Time Out Beirut
  43. ^ Album featured on Anghami.com
  44. ^ Album featured on NationaGeographic.com
  45. ^ Album featured on AfroCubanLatinJazz.blogspot.com
  46. ^ Album featured on CdUniverse.com
  47. ^ Album on Amazon Spain website
  48. ^ Album on PriceMinister French Website
  49. ^ Album on Libanmall.com
  50. ^ Featured on Last.fm
  51. ^ Album featured on Last.fm
  52. ^ Album on Amazon.com
  53. ^ Album featured on Womex.com
  54. ^ Album featured on Womex.com
  55. ^ Article in The National, UAE
  56. ^ https://rollingstoneme.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1377
  57. ^ Filmed testimonies by Michel Aoun and other international personalities on Vimeo.com
  58. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "UNCHR/Swiss Federal Office for Refugees Reports/Country information/Paragraph 15.2.3 (French)". Unhcr.org. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  59. ^ "Al-Ahram English article". Weekly.ahram.org.eg. 21 March 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  60. ^ Michel Elefteriades on France 24 TV Nov. 2009
  61. ^ Article on Al azeera.com]
  62. ^ "L'Orient-Le-Jour article – October 9, 2007 (French)" (PDF). Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  63. ^ CIA – The World Factbook – Rank Order – Public debt
  64. ^ Lebanese newspaper "Al-Akhbar" article (in Arabic)
  65. ^ http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/business/2014/10/24/spc-marketplace-middle-east-michel-elefteriades.cnn.html
  66. ^ http://mtv.com.lb/Bloc_Note/Michel_Elefteriades_28_Jul_2013
  67. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljHWfujky5A
  68. ^ http://www.otv.com.lb/beta/episode.php?id=3632
  69. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGdEXc3YHrg
  70. ^ http://www.aljadeed.tv/Vediofront.html?id=1070&seriesid=10
  71. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6afBczYe38
  72. ^ http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/187910
  73. ^ (http://www.lbcgroup.tv/kalam-ennas-en/news/457/sidon-incidents-special-episode
  74. ^ ,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXnjpmOJqe8
  75. ^ http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/825879/michel-elefteriades-ou-lappui-inconditionnel-a-larmee-libanaise.html
  76. ^ http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/17211
  77. ^ "Article about the concert for the Tsunami victims". Nancyzone.atspace.com. 31 January 2005. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  78. ^ "Article in the Daily Star September 24, 2005". Dailystar.com.lb. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  79. ^ WAYYAK website
  80. ^ Valeur Actuelles article
  81. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine article
  82. ^ Lavan Guardia article
  83. ^ Radio France
  84. ^ Video on YouTube
  85. ^ Video presentation on YouTube
  86. ^ "Los Angeles Times article – January 01, 2008". Articles.latimes.com. 1 January 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  87. ^ "Daily Star article – September 24, 2005" (PDF). Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  88. ^ "September 24, 2005". Daily Star article. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  89. ^ "Asharq Al-Awsat article – February 14, 2010 (Arabic)". Aawsat.com. 14 February 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  90. ^ Rush transcript of CNN's Your World Today, aired 20 November 2006 – 12:00 ET
  91. ^ Elefrecords (16 May 2008). "Michel Elefteriades in "La Méditerranée au cœur" on France 3 Méditerranée(French)". Youtube. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  92. ^ Elefrecords (16 May 2008). "Michel Elefteriades in "Une semaine au Moyen-Orient" on France 24 (French)". Youtube. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  93. ^ Elefrecords (16 May 2008). "Michel Elefteriades on TVE 2 (Spanish)". Youtube. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  94. ^ Elefrecords (16 May 2008). "Michel Elefteriades on Al-Jazeera (English)". Youtube. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  95. ^ "L.A. Times article". Articles.latimes.com. 1 January 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  96. ^ "Der Spiegel article (German)". Der Spiegel. 23 March 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  97. ^ La Vanguardia article (Spanish)
  98. ^ "Hurriyet article (Turkish)". Arama.hurriyet.com.tr. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  99. ^ "Al-Ahram article (English)". Weekly.ahram.org.eg. 21 March 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  100. ^ "Asharq Al-Awsat article (Arabic)". Aawsat.com. 14 February 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  101. ^ "De Standaard article (Dutch)". standaard.be. 8 August 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 

External links[edit]