By Mariam Nowar
Regular people usually struggle with a 9-5 job, while musicians find it difficult to take their music to the stage, and don’t even get us started on car racers chasing their dreams during a speed test on a complex track. But this wonder woman isn’t regular people; she indulges in all three professionally with a smile on her face.
“I realized I wanted to be a rock guitarist when I was 14,” shares 30-year-old Ally Salem, who has performed with Pink Floyd tribute band Andromida all over Egypt and in the UAE, and has taken home numerous cups for participating in races. She didn’t learn to play music academically but relied on her ear, friends and the internet for her rapid learning process.
Cairo Opera House, El Sawy Culturewheel, El Gomhoureya Theatre, Darb 1718 and Bibliotheca Alexandria, along with an upcoming performance at Cairo Jazz Club this Thursday, the 28th of November, are but a few of the places where Salem has spread her tunes. She also recently delivered one hell of a concert with her band Andromida in Dubai!
“Egypt is rich with fantastic musicians. I won first place at El Sawy’s Rock Festival with Headstock in 2010! I also played with Bluenotes who was considered the best blues band in town at the time,” and after 20 years of absence, she joined metal band Vyrus during its Metallica tribute night at El Sawy.
Salem believes that it’s challenging being a female in the business, but music knows no gender and women should never be afraid to rise in a male-dominated society like Cairo’s. This takes us to her next otherworldly talent, which has her racing on the tracks behind the wheel of her Mitsubishi Colt 1999.
The moment she pressed that gas pedal for the first time in 2008 was when she realized that she had more passion for driving than she expected. Autocross champion, Shady Ossama, mentored Salem throughout her journey as a racer, and she has great respect towards F1 champions Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda, along with drivers Ken Block and Tanner Foust.
People are generally surprised when they find out Salem not only holds a senior position at a multinational company, but she also juggles two crazy hobbies on the side. She mentions that motorsport in Egypt has witnessed a hike over the past few years in the number of female drivers, which has gone up to almost 10 ladies that compete.
“Never drop your instrument no matter how bad you sound! Keep playing till you sound like what you want,” is the main advice Salem has for upcoming musicians. As for fans who aspire to lead a life like the one she has, she quotes Aerosmith’s “you got to lose to know how to win” when facing failure. “Always work hard and have full persistence. It’s okay to be tired and take a break, but never break,” she concludes.
Check out our in-depth interview with her below: