DUBAI // Inspired by the likes of Kelly Clarkson, who won fame via the inaugural series of American Idol, a group of students at the American University of Dubai have put on their own version of the show.
The competition reached its climax last night as an audience of 650 watched the four finalists perform.
"There are very few outlets here for upcoming musicians and singers to really showcase their music," said Ramy Makhaly, one of the three judges of AUD Idol.
The quartet who made it to the final had been whittled down from an initial 20 who auditioned and 13 who made it to the shortlist.
"The students felt there was nothing like this here," said Monica Azmy, the head coach of the university's singing club, which was launched last year. The club's 45 members come together for events such as fund-raising, choir-style practices and the Idol competition.
Mahy Hussein, a third-year student who won the inaugural competition last year, said: "AUD Idol has given us a creative outlet, which we didn't have before."
El Fatih Ismail, one of this year's finalists, hopes he can become one of the country's future stars.
Influenced by Ray Charles and Michael Jackson, he sang Bruno Mars's Liquor Store Blues and One More Chance by the Jackson 5.
Sarah al Shaybani, 20, another finalist, hopes to go into music production when she graduates.
Valerya Muzafyarova, 18, was the youngest finalist. Last night she sang Michael Buble's Sway. "I can't believe I made it to the finals," she said. "I put my soul into the performance."
But this year's AUD Idol is Malavika Das, who captivated the judges with her medley of Born This Way by Lady Gaga and Price Tag by Jessie J.