Image 1 of 12: Arabs Get R-E-S-P-E-C-T: When a 14 year-old pulls out a big voice, big hair & big diva hit, then we're all ears! Algeria's very own Dalia Al-Sheeh was a soul-sister for the night, delivering favorite Aretha Franklin cover, Respect, with a voice beyond her years. Algerian teen complete with her Afro & swagger gave an impressive push for the final.
Image 1 of 12: Morocco's "Overboys" whip up a storm: This drumming crew of manic musicians were liked by all for their synchronized but eclectic mix. Their performance utalized everything in their wake, drumming out a beat from trash cans to the stage floor. They seemed to emanate as much energy as they spent. Their rhythmic vortex sucked the judges in.
Image 1 of 12: After the fall comes the rise: Radwan Shalabawy the Tunisian acrobat entered AGT with a crash-landing, but won the judge support on the back of his fall. This first season entry kept coming back for more. For him, the circus is like 'a suicidal adventure' and he says he wants to spread the culture of circus in the Arab world.
Image 1 of 12: Manal Mallatt: This Lebanese stunning voice sang Whitney Houston, and struck more than a vocal chord with the audience just months from the American soul singer's death. This bold voice was able to do justice to the big love anthem 'I Will Always Love You'. She got the people's vote and with it a firm place in the finals.
Image 1 of 12: Saudi funny men stand together: This Saudi standup comedian Muhannad Jalil geared his act to appeal to celebrity compatriot, and fellow comic, Nasser al Qasabi. Some claimed later that it was solely a Saudi humor thing that ingratiated him with the Saudi judge, since he was not necessarily every Arab's cup of tea.
Image 1 of 12: Maher al Sheikh was an immediate hit with judges & audience. This Syrian with the floppy shaggy hair gave a performance littered with sound & visual effects. He pledged to donate a portion of any prize money to the Syrian Red Crescent. His brother choreographed his dance & advised him to include his long hair as a 5th limb in the act!
Image 1 of 12: Emirati teen singer: Shama Hamdan was the tomboy with the unique voice. She evolved into a more feminine version of her debut entry in response to the people's call to see her more ladylike. She sings Arabic songs on guitar. She was a popular choice for the Arab-song lovers, and the judges cited her as 'doing it for the Emiratis.'
Image 1 of 12: Maxim Shamy is the Lebanese male opera singer extraordinaire: The judges were full of pride in their Arab operatic star. Ali Jaber hailed the virtuosic performance one to make the Arab world proud. Though he faltered in the first show, he came back strong after doing some homework between audition and semis to get up to speed.
Image 1 of 12: Saudis light up the way to the finals: This sparky band of "Thoughts in the Shadows" or Khawater fi al Thalam were a Saudi ensemble of 14 no less, who specialise in transferring concepts into a light show. Manipulating visual light effects, they care for education. They are the first Arab band to deploy phosphor light on a black background.
Image 1 of 12: Hassan Menawi is the straw-man of Arabia. The Jordanian artist makes music out of drinking straws. He took up Najwa's advice and came back stronger, with not one, but two straws - to make an orchestra - leading other real instrumentals. Each straw was a different tenor, bass to soprano.
Image 1 of 12: Another Moroccan outfit: The dance troupe La Hala King Zoo produced a unique blend of oriental and western music, putting on an enchanting dance show. The judges were rhapsodical in their praise, especially Ali Jaber (the Arab Simon Cowell) - who reveled in the Arabic-ness of the piece that integrated Arabic hip hop and oriental story-telling.
Image 1 of 12: There's more than one circus act vying for the talent crown: Hussein Rasmi is the Egyptian entry with a sense of balance. He balanced all manner of things from glasses to cylinders. He hails from a circus family background of tightropes, trapeze, and animal-taming.
The line-up for the Arabs Got Talent final includes a dozen acts with nothing too radical or outlandish in the competition. A novelty act of drinking straw instrumentals was probably the most quirky element in the mixed bag of singing, dancing and acrobatics.
With the Cirque du Soleil coming to town in the Middle East, a few acrobatic acts and circus talents enter the mix. Male opera singing and a Tom-Boyish Emirati singer added some spice to the usual suspects.
In the singing stakes, a lot of the talent chose to broadcast itself in English language form, leaving us wondering if it were 'Arabs Got English Talent.'
In the show where Arab pride is displayed and celebrated in the absence of political judgement or tension, there was a nice spread of teens to oldies, solo artists to bands. While Saudi and Moroccan ingredients reigned supreme, there was some Emirati, Algerian, Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian in the line-up.
In a healthy mix of judge appointments combined with people votes, the final chosen set of twelve were selected by the jury and the people in a way that gave a nod to democracy and celebrity at the same time.
Who's your vote with?