x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Palestinian wins Idol fans with his Khaleeji styling

Arab Idol's Palestinian contestant Mohammad Assaf is being predicted to win the competition.

The Palestinian contestant Mohammad Assaf, who's slowly winning a sizeable fan base throughout the Arab world, delivered a hit performance on Friday's episode of Arab Idol.

The 23-year-old sang in the Khaleeji style last weekend with a cover of a song by the Saudi singing legend Mohammed Abdo. The Lebanese judge Ragheb Alama called him "the true voice of Palestine", before showering him with numerous repetitions of his trademark compliment: "Bravo!"

The outspoken Emirati judge Ahlam congratulated Assaf on his spot-on Khaleeji-style performance, and even stood up to declare controversially that she predicts he will end up winning the competition.

The legendary Algerian singer Cheb Khaled also lit up the Arab Idol stage with a guest performance. "All your songs are hits," said the Lebanese judge Nancy Ajram. "Even my children who are too young to speak know your songs."

Another judge, Hassan Al Shafei, commended Khaled for pushing Arab fusion music to the forefront on a global scale, calling him "an international star, not just a regional one".

Just weeks after performing on the rival show X Factor Arabia, the Iraqi singer Majed Al Mohandes was on hand to lift spirits on Saturday's nail-biting elimination episode. Although the surprise performance by Ahmad Jamal from Egypt of R Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly (in which he theatrically flew through the air on wires) was impressive, it was not enough to keep him from entering the bottom three. However, when the public votes were finally counted, it was revealed that Abdel Karim Hamdan from Syria was to leave the competition.

With the contestants on Arab Idol whittled down to just six, the battle for the top spot is now more competitive than ever. Viewers can look forward to a guest performance from Ajram on tomorrow's episode, along with a game-changing double elimination.


Arab Idol is broadcast on Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm on MBC1

* Reem Buhazza