Culture

Diasporama # 23: Youssef Aarab, Maitre Gims' manager and Moroccan brother

When Maitre Gims is in Morocco, Youssef Aarab is there too. The 32-year-old man in love with his Moroccan roots, is the star's right hand, friend and supporter. A brother from another mother who made him gain sucess in the Kingdom.

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Youssef Aarab next to King Mohammed and Maitre Gims./Ph. Youssef Aarab

Gandhi Djuna, known by his stage name Maitre Gims, and since he converted to Islam, coudn't hide the love and interest he has for Morocco. His manager, Youssef Aarab, 32, made him discover the beauty of the Kingdom all while making him feel at home.

«I wanted him to come and share with me the love I have for my country. It was love at first sight for him», said the French-Moroccan national who was born in Tizi N'Oucheg, a village near Ourika in the region of Marrakech.

«My parents never really left our village. They have accustomed me from an early age to go there. We used to go there ever year», recalls Youssef, who regularly escapes the business of France to find peace in his little Atlas village. «I love everything there, the nature, the authenticity of its inhabitants, my ancestors who still live there. But what I love the most about that place is the fact that it is isolated from the rest of the world, it's a refuge where everything is organic», he told Yabiladi.

«We are six brothers and sisters», declared Youssef who has always felt close to his family. An attitude that shaped his relationship with the singer.

Marrakchi friends

«We met in 2009 and we consider ourselves true brothers. Beyond our professional relationship, I am as much his right arm as his eyes», he said about the man he started his artistic career with and never left:

«At home, his name is Gandhi Aarab, and at his place I am Youssef Djuna. We are one family.»

On the other hand, he did everything to make Maitre Gims and his family feel at home in Marrakech that the Kinshasa-native, discovered thanks to his friend a few years ago. «I made it possible for him to find a second house and despite the difficulties at the beginning, with time, everything was arranged». A not-so-simple integration, he admits, «because we had to impose ourselves (...) that we see him as a Moroccan and not as a tourist or a foreign artist. Today, I wonder who, of him or me, is the most Marrakchi!», said Youssef while laughing.

He built Dar Demdem, a dream house named after his wife, and shot two of his videos there. In December 2017, he even performed in a free concert at the famous Jamaâ El Fna place...

At the gates of the Palace...

It was also with King Mohammed VI himself that the world star caused a sensation. Their selfies went viral on social media. In some photos, Youssef is posing with the monarch and the artist. «We met His Majesty for the first time in Marrakech. It is true that we are close to him with Gandhi, we met again on various occasions, in Africa, in France... He is a person that I have so much love and respect for», said Youssef.

An affection with the roots and the Moroccan values inculcated since childhood by his parents : «They educated us so as to love our country and love the royal family since the late king His Majesty Hassan II. Today, I see it as a reward to be able to approach my King and talk to him». A pride shared with Master Gims on stage.

«At every concert and event in the Kingdom, Master Gims launches the national anthem with the flag of Morocco that I bring on stage. It has become a ritual since the first time we did it at the Mawazine festival. It is always an honor for me to do so, it is still the hymn of my homeland, and then we thank each time His Majesty, it is important for us.»

Stars in the eyes

Talking about their best performance together, Youssef responds without hesitation: «That one at the Conakry stadium : more than 110,000 people were present !» But the personal success for him is the concert he organized in Jamâa El Fna: «I took this initiative first and foremost to thank His Majesty in particular, Morocco and Marrakech for all the wonderful moments we lived there». It was full, more than 95,000 people gathered at the mythical square. I had this idea and thank God, I was trusted, everyone followed me and everyone was particularly happy», he added: «Maitre Gims and Douzi but also H MAGNUM, LEFA and Moroccan artists CRAVATA and SY MEHDI came and I can't thank them enough for that, in addition to the sponsors who supported me in this adventure which will remain engraved in my memory.»

Youssef's adventure continues with a new album and a tour of Maitre Gims. «The CTN album is in the final stages, it will be released soon. And the tour 'Fuego Tour' promises a lot of events in France, Africa, Europe, not to mention the Stade de France!», concludes Youssef Aarab, with bright stars in the eyes.

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