Arab Idol Winner Carmen: Arabs Vote Egypt!

Published March 25th, 2012 - 10:41 GMT

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Carmen Suleiman wins the Arab Idol prize
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Image 1 of 11: Carmen Suleiman: Winner takes all did not apply. Both finalists wished each other the prize in a saccharine display of graceful sportsmanship combined with Arab warmth, ahead of the final showdown. Consensus agreed that both girls, the Moroccan talent voicebox, and the Egyptian young starlet were deserving winners that did the Arab world proud.

Ragheb Alameh duets with Carmen Suleiman
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Image 1 of 11: Ragheb Alameh sang a duet with Carmen. This was an elegant and sweet showpiece designed to please all. No surprises that she won after that star-studded performance. Ragheb showed us that he's still got it and then some, slightly upstaging this ingénue, 17 year-old. But Carmen certainly held her own and a half.

Dunia the Moroccan runner up
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Image 1 of 11: Dunia the runner-up with the most-est: Left heart-break by her loss. This close second had sung her heart out-- but Morocco's turn - unlike Egypt's had not quite come. The judges during Friday's final showered her with the highest accolades, "Princess of Arab Idol", blessed with the "most wonderful, 'rare', voice in the Arab world".

Carmen Suleiman takes Arab Idol for Egypt
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Image 1 of 11: Carmen was the ultimate star of the Arabs - the choice voice to launch the Arab Idol's debut to our screens. Her tender age of 17 may have held added appeal for the voters who admired her prowess at such a young age. This Egyptian 'cutie' held more idol-factor for the sprawling Arab world than any other it seemed.

Ahlam's over-the-top dresses got comments
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Image 1 of 11: Not all that glitters is gold. Ahlam's gaudy final show-dress made her look a couple of sequin's from tacky. While some have softened toward this character who has received the brunt of the show's gossip, a lot still had something to say about her special array of dazzling attire this Arab Idol season.

Judge Hassan's dramas and moods
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Image 1 of 11: Hassan's Judge drama: The Egyptian mostly showed a cruel to be kind attitude, but waived his brooding exterior in the finale for a fitting face. Some called for the Judge with the most 'cool' to quit. The 'composed' composer remained seated when Kadim al Saher entered to a standing ovation. He also spurned Ragheb's advances to sing with him.

Jordanian Arafat tears
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Image 1 of 11: Still with the tears: Jordan's tears begot more tears. Yousef Arafat's tearing up caused Dunia to cry for her peer contestant's distress. By the finale, the only cause for tears was the mass heartbreak over Dunia's loss. The popular finalist racked up the most comment. Not without her own ordeal, falling sick on the show but hanging in there.

Najwa Karam sings for Arab Idol
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Image 1 of 11: Najwa Karam managed to steal some of the spotlight from these two lovely girl finalists. Friday's performance left the audience somewhere between melting and wonderment at the bizarre sky entry machination. A neat dab of classic idol material in the ever-flourishing world of Arab music.

Funnies from Arab Idol
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Image 1 of 11: Funnies and cannon fodder that carried through the entire show: Arab Idol sentimentally kicked in when the finale recapped everyone's most memorable moments, from the judge's favorites to the collective memory of striking outtakes. Early audition "Shams" the show's 'fool' of audition acts was advised by judges on a career in comedy.

Ragheb Alameh is a big hit on Arab Idol
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Image 1 of 11: Ragheb Alameh is the hit of the show. Ragheb shone through the show with his own singing-performing special features, as well as his final words. Ragheb Alameh gave a sentimental and tearful farewell, feeling almost personally proud of the show. Some accused him of having a gooey soft spot for Carmen.

Ahlam and Dunia sing-off
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Image 1 of 11: Ahlam-Dunia sing-off! Arab Idols other judge-contestant duets: Dunia and Ahlam's duet was less powerful, but had a 'Diva's' live feel as these two played off against each other. It seemed apt as Ahlam had told Dunia on her audition, "You remind me of myself."

The final show-down for Arab Idol was not without all the drama and sentiment that such a pan-Arab talent contest might warrant.

The Egyptian young thing, Carmen Suleiman won, in a crowd-pleasing moment of both classic Arab world pride in their Egyptian stars, mixed with a feel-good fever on the wave of Egypt's heady 2011 revolution days.

The show was not free of the usual controversies that surround reality TV and talent shows. For the Arab version of things, this translated into religious debate over the word idol or concept of idolatry, as well as a touch of corruption amid rumors of vote-tampering, and a possible rigged result.

Nontheless, to most people's delight, the jury's out on its chosen voice of the region; and it is as official as the Queen of England that the Egyptian contestant Carmen Sulaiman has won the title of Arab Idol.

The final sing-off between Egypt and Morocco left the Moroccan finalist Dunia Batma in a 'close' second place, and more than a few fans aggrieved and gutted at their palpable loss. Some claimed they didn't sleep the night in their disappointment at their preferred finalist's defeat.

The finale proved to be certainly a night to remember, in an Arab Idol first season full of nuggets and gems.
The guest was Tunisian singer Latifa - a class act, providing a dash of elegance to a fun line-up.

The talk of the evening was the exclusive performances of both Arab stars Ragheb Alamah and Ahlam with the final pair. This judge-contestant mixing was the main attraction of last night's much-anticipated occasion, as the lucky girls got to duet with the non-judgmental stars. Dunia paired up wtih Ahlam, while Carmen got Ragheb Alameh all to herself.

Old ongoing stories from the show such as the debate over why Yousef Arafat sobbed to the tune of his own voice and millions of curious viewers, did not die a death, just because the show had come to an end.

Other controversy surrounding the show involved the contestants' own 'professional' backgrounds. Questions of to what extent they may have been involved in previous talent shows, or more, and that they might not strictly qualify as amateurs in the field of music, were rife.

- Youssef Arafat has been on Taratata, which is a talent singing show on Dubai TV.

- Dunia Batma has released a cassette tape and music video in her native Morocco.

- Carmen Suleiman has been in previous singing competitions, including one for opera singers. She has performed concerts and such before.

There were additional nice touches: The happy-singer, remembered as 'that Tunisian with the nice smile', made a comeback. Since he was an early on favorite, it lent an added note of happy-endings. His full-beam carried the show to a nice finish. 

Arab Conflict: Dunia Devotees vs. Camp Carmen

Still, the show's finale did not resolve the antogonistic conflict between the Dunia crowd and the Carmen accolytes, leaving a distinctly bitter-sweet note behind. Dunia left her share - wider afield than the North African continent - of heartbreak. She was a really popular bet, and most of the Arab Idol commentary concerned the Magrhabi voice. Not to mention that she had to endure so much as she got sick on the show a couple of weeks back, and persisted regardless until the end.

Yet, it would seem that her contender had more idol-factor for the sprawling Arab world, as winner Carmen Suleiman won the night and the Arab hearts. A round-up of the best bits in pictures.

 

What will you miss most about this show? And what will you be looking forward to watching next to fill the void Arab Idol has created?

 

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