Image 1 of 14: And, with a pause for suspense and judges' caveat, the winner was announced. Ali Jaber showing the ultimate judicial leveling reminded viewers that the people’s opinion was what counted. All entries had earnt artistic merit & standing in the Arab world. Saudi Khawater fi Zalam (Thoughts of Darkness) bagged the title, 330,000 USD & a Camaro car.
Image 1 of 14: Host & hostess duo, Qusai & Raya: the show's presenting double act were on top form for the final. Qusai our rapping Saudi was decked out in a grey suit plus hat while Lebanese popular co-host Raya saw off the second season of Arabs Got Talent in a mauve pretty number. They lent the show a global touch with their dash of English American words.
Image 1 of 14: Maxim Shami's act opened up the final episode, and broke the back of the tension and nerves of the competition. He belted out his final aria to the judges' approval: he had picked a famous international piece complete with impressive costume that showcased his ability, said Najwa. Arabs could raise their heads with operatic pride, declared Ali.
Image 1 of 14: Heart-stopping: next up was balance artist Hussein Rasmi plunging us straight into the world of circus (appropriate while the Cirque du Soleil was touring the ME). Judge Ali pronounced this act fit for "international show" & Qasabi joked that he sustained a lump in his throat in fear for his safety but used a AGT catch-phrase "Jameel" (stunning).
Image 1 of 14: Saudi 'clown' stand-up, stayed standing when he proposed marriage to female judge Najwa. Muhanad Jamily closed his humor fest with bravado, hurling himself at the mercy of Lebanon's L'Oreal face.The put-upon Karam was ignoble in her answer, joking as a long-time unmarried, applying an Arabic idiom: "I did not fast so I'd land you in the end"!
Image 1 of 14: Dalia Sheih was the judge's "Arab talent". Jaber noted that this tender young Algerian was larger in stature than Arabia and deserved world status & international recognition. Najwa noted her ambitious vocal tricks. The mini-diva plumped for "This Is A Man’s World" – which wasn't stopping the young lady from competing in the Arab contest!
Image 1 of 14: Jordanian strawman Hasan Minawi played his straws like they were bagpipes. His classic performance caused a 'revolution' on the judge panel as Nasser appropriated the villainous Judge Ali role.
Najwa lauded him as inventor & musician. Ali's endorsement tagged him the one that deserved to go through from audition to finish, put through his paces.
Image 1 of 14: The judge committee may have been disappointed by the wonder-boy Syrian flash-point of the contest, Maher, but they were not going to admit so in the final that rested with the people's choice. Except for Nasser who waded in with his verdict much to Judge Ali's embarrassed sense of fair-play. Najwa waved her white kerchief as Nasser & Ali feuded.
Image 1 of 14: The Tunisan with a death wish: Radwan Shalbani thrilled and rocked the audience and judge panel. He had Ali Jaber on tenterhooks, eating his knuckles. Najwa's only pointer for circus daredevil was that he might want to try having a different ending. Ali and Nasser agreed that Radwan was on top form as usual.
Image 1 of 14: Manal Malat of Beirut proved to be a true 'show girl', & the judges had spoken. Jaber said she picked the right song, (What A Feeling). Nasser (for once this opinionated episode) noted her performance spoke for itself without the judges' intervention - she "had the makings of a true star". Najwa applauded her voice but preferred her last round.
Image 1 of 14: Morocco's Over Boys: whose enthusiasm inspires enthusiasts.
Ali elevated them as one of the best phenomenons on the show – ensuring drumming was no headache! Najwa praised the boys & girls who seduced with their eyes as well as their beats. Their catchphrase was 'Dare not to like us!' drawn straight from Najwa's 'Dare not to make the final cut'.
Image 1 of 14: Emarati Shama Hamdan was dressed more traditionally than usual, billed as a rare Gulf talent. She capped the contest with another strong act, said judge Ali. For Nasser she was a promising voice from the Gulf. Najwa appreciated the oriental guitar that reminded her of Romeo & Juliet and slammed Nasser for being infected with the ‘no’ virus.
Image 1 of 14: La Hala King Zoo were the Moroccan animal artists! Ali praised their complete & consummate performance and branded them another contender for the prize. Nasser labelled them his number one – with their harmony and concept that merited them the highest praise. Najwa said they comfortably transported the audience to a tropical animal kingdom.
Image 1 of 14: The final 3 talents in the draw for the grand prize: 3 contestants made it to the final 3 by the viewer vote: these were, Emirati enchantress Shama Hamdan, Algerian big voice, Dalia Sheih and Saudi light stars, Kwater fi Zalam band.
Friday's grand finale of Arabs Got Talent was a good old reminder that Arabs had a whole bunch of talent up their sleeves besides wars, dictatorships and speaking a whole cornocopia of dialects across the diverse region and still understanding one another! Throw in nascent democracies, and put that in your Arab hookah and smoke it! Arabs had a lot to sing and dance about yesterday night.
The final episode delivered a healthy mix of talents who qualified as fit contenders and potential 'Arab talents'. All were Arab talents declared comedic judge Nasser al Qasabi. As Judge-ette Najwa Karam put it in her last word, the finalists ranged between strong talents and extremely strong talents and any one of that upper echelon should win. Notoriously harsh Judge Ali Jaber gave his consolatory speech to the 12 finalists who were all deservedly winners, having earnt their artistic standing in Arab world. All had gained ground and success that would surely be a boon for their burgeoning careers.
And in true trending Arab democratic fashion it was the people's vote that counted, leaving even our highly regarded judge panel to keep their normally running mouths, reigned in.
Saudis light their way to the crown
As for the people's choice winners, the Saudi illusionist light artists, co-patriot judge Nasser had this to say - that they were really fit to be the talents of the Arab world.
The last show of season 2 ended with a montage of cuts linked together in one digest of a show-piece.
The Saudi shining winners, the light artsist set, known as 'Thoughts of Darkness' from the Arabic 'Khawater fi Zalam' transported us to a different dimension, as Najwa Karam put it. They won from a final draw of top three of Emirati protegee Shama Hamdan; young Algerian Dalia Sheih and owner of the big voice; and the Saudi light brigade.
Some, like the editors at Al Bawaba, feel that the zoo of sophisticated and novel animal dancers and creators, La Hala King Zoo, would have made deserving winners too! This final act in the finale line up apparently made Najwa feel like she was transported to the Amazonian jungle.
Are you happy with the outcome of Arabs Got Talent, Season 2? Will you miss it? What will you be plugging the gap with next? Share your thoughts.