“Desert Rose” by Sting (ft. Cheb Mami)

The titular “desert rose” is actually a reference to a woman. And as such, this is basically a love song. The unique angle that runs throughout is apparently the singers (Sting and Cheb Mami) have been separated from the women whom they adore for a noticeable period of time. Thus they are expressing what Sting described in his own words as “desire” and “craving”. That is to say that they are longing for their respective romantic partners. 

And the whole “desert” scenario was apparently inspired by Sting wanting to drop something like a Middle East-themed song, thus the Cheb Mami feature. But it also serves as a metaphor to how desolate his life has become without love. And it should be noted that in Sting’s case in particular, his lyrics read more along the lines of anticipating a new partner as opposed to wanting to get reacquainted with an old one. But either way, what he and Cheb definitely have in common is that they are both currently suffering emotionally due to being devoid of a romantic partner.

Lyrics of "Desert Rose"

Facts about “Desert Rose”

  • The music video, which was directed by Sanji and filmed in the Mojave Desert, includes scenes in its most-famous location, Las Vegas.
  • “Desert Rose” marked the first collaboration between Sting, who hails from the United Kingdom and Cheb Mami, a musician from the North African country of Algeria.
  • This song, which has been noted for its distinct international flavor, went on to score a number one in Portugal as well as on Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs.
  • The song also charted in 10 other countries, in addition to reaching a peak of number 15 on the UK Singles Chart. The Billboard Hot 100, it managed to peak at position 17.
  • “Desert Rose” originally came out on 24 September 1999 as part of Sting’s album entitled “Brand New Day”. The song was later re-issued as the second single from that project.
  • Part of the reason “Desert Rose” (and “Brand New Day” itself) blew up was due Sting’s manager striking a deal with the automobile company Jaguar, since one of their vehicles was prominently in the music video. Subsequently Jaguar also featured the song in some of their own television advertisements. Owing to this, the song was introduced to a wider audience outside of Sting’s niche of mature adults.
  • Sting contributed to both the writing and production of “Desert Rose”.  The other writer is Cheb Mami, and the additional co-producer is Kipper.

Live Performance of “Desert Rose”

Sting and Cheb Mami performed “Desert Rose” live at the 2000 Grammy Awards.

In what language does Cheb Mami sing this song?

Cheb sings his portions of “Desert Rose” purely in Arabic.

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