BEIRUT: Syrian singer George Wassouf is in a stable condition after suffering a small stroke Wednesday evening, his son Wadia told The Daily Star Thursday.
Initial reports earlier in the day suggested the iconic performer was in a coma following a brain hemorrhage, but Wadia said his father was awake but resting.
After first being treated at Al-Shami hospital in Damascus Wednesday night, Wassouf, 49, was transferred to the American University of Beirut Medical Center early Thursday morning, arriving at around 7 a.m.
Doctors have said the stroke was caused by high blood pressure, for which Wassouf is now receiving treatment. They also said that he must now rest, but that he should be able to leave hospital in a few days.
The AUBMC entrance was teeming with friends, family, fans and media Thursday, after various rumors had spread earlier in the day about his condition and even the possibility that the singer, who has produced over 30 albums, had died.
His friend and colleague Mahmoud Moussa, who works in artist management at Wassouf’s record label, Rotana, had traveled from Lebanon Wednesday night to visit Wassouf in hospital in Damascus, and returned back with him and his family to Beirut Thursday morning.
“I left Lebanon last night as soon as I heard he was unwell,” Moussa told The Daily Star. “But thankfully everything is going well now and he should be out of hospital in around 72 hours.”
“We are praying for his fast recovery, and God willing, George will return to performing soon.”
Isma Ramadan, a 24-year-old student from Beirut, is a big fan of Wassouf, and had been waiting at the hospital complex for over an hour for news of his condition.
“There were rumors going around this morning – on TV, radio and on BlackBerry Messenger – that he had died but I had a feeling it just wasn’t true,” Ramadan said.
After speaking to friends close to the family he realized the rumors were fortunately false, but still went to AUBMC to “see for himself.”
He has listened to George Wassouf since he was 12, when his mum, also a huge fan, used to play his music at home. Ramadan has seen Wassouf perform live six times, and even went to the airport to welcome him home in 2008, after the singer was arrested in Sweden for the possession of cocaine.
“He is just the region’s best singer, he has such an amazing voice,” Ramadan said. “And more than that, he’s honest, and he’s just a really big symbol in this part of the world. I hope he gets back to performing again soon.”
Wassouf was born in Kafroun in the Syrian coastal province of Tartous, and began singing at the age of 10.
He is well known throughout the region for his unique singing style and has the nickname “Sultan el-Tarab,” Arabic for sultan of music.
Wadia insisted he did not mind the huge media presence at the hospital. “We know it is just because everyone loves my father so much. - With additional reporting by Rima Aboulmona and Thomas El-Basha