It was a top three finish for Dubai’s Shamma Hamdan on last night's live final of Arabs Got Talent in Beirut.
The 18-year-old singer-songwriter lost out to Saudi Arabia’s illusionist collective Khawater Al Thalam (Thoughts of Darkness) in what was a colourful curtain closer to the talent show’s second season.
The winning group will return to Saudi Arabia having pocketed 500,000 Saudi riyals (Dh490,000) and a new Chevy Camaro, not to mention instant stardom across the Arab world.
Hamdan’s performance was a continuation of her Khaleeji meets acoustic guitar sound. However, this time, the flamenco influence was dropped for a more singer-songwriter feel.
While two judges, the Lebanese pop-star Najwa Karam and the journalist and academic Ali Jaber praised the performance, it was the Saudi comic Nasser Al Qasabi who was left unsatisfied.
“To be honest with you, I think it could have been better,” he said to jeers from the audience.
“I was waiting for something bigger to take me but it didn’t come.”
Al Qasabi’s hopes were answered in the penultimate act and eventual winners Khawater Al Thalam.
The 13-man crew produce silent theatre and illusions through glow-in-the-dark set-pieces.
For the final, they once again made the studio plunge into darkness as they created the illusionary tale of a deep sea diver - courtesy of a member descending from the roof of the stage - dodging sharks and sea-life (rendered through black clad members shuffling across the stage and holding glow-in-the-dark fishes) to extract a pearl.
Speaking on the winning group’s next move, Khwater Al Thalam leader Mamdouh Khidary said the grand plan was to perform on one of the biggest stages of all.
“Our goal is Las Vegas,” he said.
“When you are doing a show like ours, that is the place where you need to be in order for you to make it. If we come to Vegas, we don’t need to go to the world, instead the world will come to us.”