Simon Fuller’s Arab Idol makes international news

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London Sunday 23th June 2013

Mohammed Assef, a young Palestinian wedding singer from the Gaza Strip, has created international news by winning the Arab Idol talent TV show. The TV show, which was created by British entrepreneur Simon Fuller, was held in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and was seen by millions across the region.

After being declared the winner of the Arab Idol TV show, Mohammed Assaf looked overwhelmed. He thanked his parents, who were in the TV studio in Beirut, and people across the Palestinian territories who voted for him in the contest. He is expected to get Israeli permission to travel to the West Bank so that he can perform at concerts there as well as in Gaza in the near future.

Assaf was declared the winner on Saturday evening, a day after he competed in a final against two other singers – Ahmed Jamal from Egypt and Farah Youssef from Syria. The talent contest has been broadcast on the Beirut-based MBC TV channel since March and has attracted over 8 million votes in a country with a population of 1.7 million.

“Mohammed Assaf didn’t free Palestine,” wrote one blogger on Twitter. “But he brought joy to people who didn’t smile for the past 66 years of occupation.”

Traffic in Gaza City was gridlocked late into the night and middle-aged men danced in the streets in celebration. Palestinian public figures, including President Mahmoud Abbas, had called on all Palestinians to show their support for the singer. He also had the backing of big businesses, which produced posters for him and sponsored billboards.

Arab Idol is a TV show based on the popular British show Pop Idol created by Simon Fuller. The first season premiered in December 2011, and the second season ran spring summer 2013 on MBC1.

Issued by XIX Entertainment