Maalouf was born into a family of intellectuals and artists. The son of trumpeter Nassim Maalouf and pianist Nada Maalouf, nephew of the writer Amin Maalouf and grandson of journalist, poet and musicologist Rushdi Maalouf. His family fled Lebanon in the midst of a civil war and Maalouf grew up in the Paris suburbs with both parents and his sister Layla, who is two years older than he is. He began to study the trumpet at the age of 7 with his father Nassim Maalouf, a former student of Maurice André at the Paris Higher National Conservatory of Music and Dance. In fact, his father was the inventor of the micro-tonal trumpet, called “quarter tone trumpet”, which makes it possible to play Arab maqams on the trumpet.