AMERICAN IN ARABIA: Arabs Got Talent
With talent show Arabs Got Talent just around the corner, Brett recounts the many ways that Arabs have got talent!
Media outlets are gearing up for Season Two of Arabs Got Talent here in the Middle East, and this is just after finishing Arab Idol. In times like these I ask myself, “Where am I?” It’s as if I’m still stateside only everything has been given an Arab makeover.
If I have a Big Mac attack, no problem—Arabs have dozens of McDonald’s, just like in Amreeka. The pleasant difference is that the employees here are all dressed better than my wedding party and they smile more than Ronald McDonald himself.
Of course, there is still no such thing as a line at the counter. It’s more like a mosh pit at a Metallica Concert.
Arabs got malls. In fact, they have practically the same grocery stores as us, except here you can get valet parking and a metal detector scan even before you enter the store. I
nside it feels just like home, other than the fact that cereal is double the cost, vegetables are half and goat’s head is a top seller.
And for sure, Arabs got talent, unique talents. Let’s take their parties as an example. I went to a victory celebration for a politician in rural Jordan. There were over 250 of us there in our suits and fake cologne and I was the only one who was not from that family.
We were sprawled out on the lawn, on the road, and there was even a group on the roof, all being served coffee and sweets while we waited for the big show.
Then, out of nowhere a massive bloke picked up a plastic chair, shouted the family name and crushed that poor piece of lawn furniture into 100 shards onto the road. Immediately afterwards, someone fired an M16 in the air, they blared some bagpipe music and suddenly a line of at least 40 men emerged with each carrying a platter of mensaf on their shoulders.
We split up into groups of 4 around the trays of lamb and stuffed our faces until we either fainted or started hallucinating. Those Arabs had talent!
It makes me wonder if this year they will add a sheep herding talent to the competition. Is there anywhere else in the world where Bedouins can graze hundreds of sheep in the middle of a city?
Finding a parking spot is one thing, but leading a small army of livestock to an open lavish meadow in a Saharan metropolis every day? Move over Susan Boyle and Paul Potts, these shepherding idols got skills!
All kidding aside, bring on Season 2! Though this may be an idea ripped off from America, who first ripped it off from Britain, I know it will still be distinctly Arab.
Last year’s winner was not a singer, or dancer, or a busty model juggling knives. Arab’s Idol was Amr Katamesh, a chubby man from Egypt who performed poems. Yes, that’s right, a poet. And I love it!
Qattamesh is not some plastic copy of an even more plastic, vegetarian, supermodel turned singer from New York. He is a real Egyptian man, who camped out in Tahrir Square and is not afraid of meat or wearing pink. Unlike the lip-synching mannequins of pop music, if you drop him on the ground, he will not break into a hundred pieces.
Who knows who this year’s winner might be? I’m putting my money on the Bedouin shepherd because if he wins, we are going to party till we faint or start seeing double… And Ronald McDonald smoking hookah.
By Brett Weer