First Middle-Eastern musician to crowdfund a debut single
Faia Younan
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Faia Younan (Syria) used the Arabian crowdfunding platform Zoomaal to launch her professional music career with the single "Ohebbou Yadayka" ("I Love Your Hands"). The project was backed by 119 contributors and reached its funding target of $25,000 (£16,696; SYP 5,361,250) on 19 April 2015. Younan released her debut album, A Sea Between Us, in March 2017.

"Faia – The Debut" attracted a total of $26,369 (£17,610; SYP 5,654,830) on Zoomaal. Rewards ranged from a "thank you" on her official website to a personalized video song, concert tickets, an invitation to the launch party and dinner with Faia herself!

Younan appeared on "Busted and Blue", a track on two deluxe editions of Humanz (2017), the fifth studio album from Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's virtual band Gorillaz.

She was born on 20 June 1992 in the Syrian village of Al-Malikiyah but grew up in Aleppo. She relocated to Sweden with her family at the age of 11 and, in 2010, studied Social Sciences at the University in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2015, following the success of the YouTube video she made with her sister, "To Our Countries", she launched her professional singing career and moved to Beirut, Lebanon.

"To Our Countries" was produced by a group of friends from Sweden who had originally lived in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. The video, featuring Faia singing "Mawteni" and spoken passages about the war-torn countries of the Levant from sister Rihan, had been watched 5.27 million times as of 30 November 2017.

Zoomaal was launched as the first Middle East and North African-specific crowdfunding platform. Zoomaal is an initiative by four major Arab investors in the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and Egypt.