x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

How Shamma Hamdan got to the finals

Friday night will be the culmination of Shamma Hamdan's journey on Arabs Got Talent. For those unfamiliar with the process, below are the steps the young performer took to arrive to the final stage.

The judges on Arabs Got Talent, from left, Nasser Al Qasabi, Najwa Karam and Ali Jaber. Courtesy of MBC
The judges on Arabs Got Talent, from left, Nasser Al Qasabi, Najwa Karam and Ali Jaber. Courtesy of MBC

Producers' auditions

Before gracing the big stage, meeting the judges and public voting, Hamdan and all the other contestants underwent a low-key audition process in front of television producers, held across most major Arab cities. Hamdan was selected and became the only Emirati in the competition. With her talent and appearance, the producers no doubt felt they had struck gold.

Judges' auditions

Hamdan first presented herself in front of the celebrity panel of judges – comprising the Lebanese journalist and university dean Ali Jaber, the Lebanese pop star Najwa Karam and the Saudi Arabian comedian Nasser Al Qasabi – on the pre-recorded sixth episode. A tired Karam was in no mood for niceties, ordering Hamdan to state her name before performing. However, Karam's frostiness melted away upon the first few guitar notes, with the crowd clapping along soon after. By the time Hamdan finished her Khaleeji cover song, the applause was thunderous. Jaber, known for his cutting remarks, was all smiles: "Your voice, Shamma, is clear. I like you." Al Qasabi described her as what is missing from the Khaleeji music scene and declared her "the future". Karam beamed and called Hamdan's performance "mind-blowing". "Your voice goes straight to the heart," she told her. None of the judges mentioned Hamdan's rocker appearance, which soon became a major subject on social networking sites.

Live semi-finals

Hamdan made it to the first of the six live weekly episodes, where two performers with the most public votes - via mobile texting - qualify for the final. Hamdan ditched the rock-chic look for a glittering new ensemble, including a gold jacket, sparkling sleeves and her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Singing Have You Ever Seen A Bird In Love With Its Capturer by the famous Emirati artist Hussein Al Jassimi, Hamdan exhibited more of her Spanish musical influence and, once again, the judges responded warmly.

"You were successful [in your performance]," Jaber said. "We need more female singers with a voice like yours." Al Qasabi praised Hamdan's unique take on the Emirati standard. "You have to stay true to yourself," he said. "You will have a great future in the Gulf." Karam offered Hamdan some performance tips. "Make sure you open your mouth more when you sing," she said.

The grand final

The live show will have all 12 finalists performing a song in front of the panel. However, it will be left to the television audience to crown the winner.