‘The Frank Sinatra of the Mideast:’ Lebanese singer Wadih El Safi dies

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Classical Lebanese singer and actor, Wadih El Safi, died at the age of 92 on Friday evening after being taken to the hospital due to illness, reported the official Lebanese news agency.

“The artist was present at the home of his son Tony in Mansuriyya (East Beirut) and was immediately taken to hospital after he fell ill at 7.30 p.m. (local time). He died at the hospital," a statement from the agency said.

The agency added that his funeral will be held Monday afternoon at St. George's Cathedral in downtown Beirut.

Safi was moved months ago to Mount Lebanon hospital after suffering from fractures and swelling of the lungs that affected his heart, according to the An-Nahar Lebanese newspaper.

In September 2012, several media outlets announced that the singer’s health deteriorated dramatically following surgery to a broken leg.

Wadih is known to have enriched the Arab music library with outstanding works of art. He is a singer, a composer and considered one of the musical giants in Lebanon and the Arab world.

His first appearance was at the Lebanese song competition in 1938, in which he won the first place amongst 40 other contestants.

On social media, an outpour of grief has been seen since the news was first announced. Several Twitter users have wished Safi to "rest in a musical heaven."

“#RIP Wadih el Safi, a cultural icon, a Christian loved by Muslims, A Lebanese loved by all Arabs. Simply a legend,” tweeted Egyptian journalist and blogger Nervana Mahmoud.

American-born Arabic singer Lara Scandar tweeted: “A pillar of Arabic music was taken away but we'll never forget the art he left behind. Rest in heavenly peace Wadih Al Safi.”

Other users described Safi as the “The Frank Sinatra of Lebanon and the Middle East.”

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