The Arabic version of the reality singing competition The Voice concluded on Friday night. In what was a festive finale, the Moroccan singer Mourad Barouki emerged victorious, beating fellow competitors including his compatriot Fareed Ghanam, the Iraqi Qusai Hatem and the Tunisian Yusra Mahnoush.
As well as winning a 2013 Chevrolet Trailblazer, the real prize for Barouki is hitting the studio with the Moroccan super-producer RedOne (real name Nadir Khayat) who has signed up to work on at least one song for Barouki's debut album, to be released by Universal Music Mena.
Barouki's triumph was also shared by his celebrity coach, the Lebanese singer Assi El Helani. After his protégé sang Um Kalthoum's Ghanyele, one of two numbers he performed that evening, El Helani declared Barouki "a champion of the stage".
"This is how you produce a genuine performance," praised El Helani.
The final wasn't totally overshadowed by Barouki's win however. Each finalist showcased the talents that brought them this far.
Hatem did his coach Saber El Rebai proud with his twin performances of Mohammed Jawad Amoury's An Yatayer and Abu Baker Al Salam's Sar Houbi.
"Through the many stages of this programme we saw Hatem win the affection of the audience," said the Tunisian balladeer El Rebai. "I am convinced that he is going to succeed."
The Iraqi singer and poet Kadim Al Sahir struck a similar note after his finalist Mahnoush completed her take on Nadthem Al Ghazali's Hayak Baba Hayak and Um Kalthoum's classic A'ateeny Houriaty.
"She has a smooth voice," said Al Sahir. "She has great range and can really take on a lot of genres in a competent way."
Ghanam focused his final performance on the raï musical genre, with a rendition of C'est La Vie by Cheb Khaled and Haoulou by Chab Mami.
"He is a global artist," said his coach, the Egyptian pop-princess Sherine. "In two or three years I may have to coax him to do a duet together."
* Saeed Saeed