Golden moments from Arabs Got Talent include Nadia Qazi playing Turkish March on the piano
Nadia Qazi’s trip to Beirut to take part in the fourth season of Arabs Got Talent is her first time in Lebanon. The 16-year-old grew up in New York, has a Lebanese father and Japanese mother and began learning to play the piano when she was 5; her mother’s job involves importing and exporting pianos to Japan. “I was always surrounded by pianos,” says Qazi.
On Saturday night’s auditions for the reality television show, Qazi seated herself behind a grand piano on the Arabs Got Talent stage and played Mozart’s Turkish March. Halfway through Qazi’s performance, the Lebanese judge and MBC Group TV director Ali Jaber got to his feet and pressed the Golden Buzz, allowing Qazi to go straight to the live rounds of the programme. After her performance, Jaber said: “I can only say that today, I’m a very proud Lebanese, and an even prouder Arab.” Co-host Raya Abirached dubbed Qazi the “golden girl”.
Qazi’s performance was a rare moment of solemnity during Saturday night’s episode; the other two hours were rife with the antics of the two comedian judges, actors Nasser Al Qasabi from Saudi Arabia and Ahmed Helmy from Egypt. The highlight was their decision to arm-wrestle with the Egyptian contestant Jihan Mustafa Kamal, known as “The World’s Bulldozer” in past arm-wrestling competitions in Egypt.
“I am the world champion in arm-wrestling for the past 12 years,” said the hijab-clad Kamal, who then devoured a few boiled eggs on stage before daring the judges to arm-wrestle. Both men failed to overpower her and she was sent to the next level.
Among other contestants to receive the go-ahead from the judges to continue in the programme was the Algerian dwarf Hammoo, who calls himself the Bubble Man and came onstage dressed like Sindbad. He blew bubbles on stage, manipulating the bubbles and filling them with smoke. He then invited judge Najwa Karam to join him on stage and encased her in a bubble. Hammoo also shared his heart-wrenching story: he previously worked as an accountant in Algeria and had to undergo spinal surgery because of long hours seated at his job. His doctors told him he would never walk again, but Hammoo moved to Germany to turn his life around and took up bubble-blowing. Karam dared the judges to say “no” to Hammoo, who never stopped grinning on stage. “I went back to that doctor and I said: ‘Look who’s walking now’,” said Hammoo.
The episode ended with a performance by 6-year-old Hiba from Morocco, who gave a moving rendition of the Umm Kulthum song What Love in a surprisingly mature voice. “Bravo, you are amazing,” shouted Helmy at the end of her performance.
• Season four of Arabs Got Talent (www.mbc.net/mbc4) is on MBC4 every Saturday from 10pm to midnight. The live episodes of Arabs Got Talent are scheduled to start on January 31. Follow the show on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; stream past episodes through shahid.mbc.net