HE DID IT!
Syrian Hazem Shareef won Arab Idol on Saturday, beating 26-year-old Saudi Majed Al Madani and 24-year-old Palestinian Haitham Khalaileh to the winning title.
After a moment of silence, where tension could be cut with a knife, the 21-year-old singer dropped to his knees as his name was called out as the winner.
The audience burst out in joy as they cheered Shareef on for this notable achievement.
“I can summarize my journey in Arab Idol in one word: a dream,” he told a press conference held after the results were announced.
“It is one word, a dream. And thank God it came true.”
Shareef sweetly noted that his mother's presence in the audience "gave him strength and confidence."
“Every time I see her in the audience, I feel more self-confident and have more power.”
Shareef cleverly chose not to make his winning moment a political one; he was the only contestant to perform the "victory song" without being draped in his country's flag.
Karmen Suleiman, from Egypt, won in 2012, and Mohammad Assaf, from Palestine, won in 2013. Both were draped in their national flags during the show.
"I am 21 years old, and I don’t want my art to be connected to politics." Shareef did however dedicate his final song to Syria.
The show’s judges, however — Emirati singer Ahlam, and Lebanese singers Nancy Ajram and Wael Kfoury — didn’t hesitate to make it slightly political.
“With your winning, you made bleeding Syria cheers. You are a source of joy to Syria and its people,” said Emirati singer Ahlam, a judge on the show.
“I knew you would be the winner from the way you sing . You were never been at risk [of being voted off],” she added.
“You are a talent that deserves winning... God willing your winning will be a remedy to the injuries of Syrians,” said Ajram.
“We lived the war, and we know the value of your achievement [to lift morale],” Ajram added in reference to the 15 years of civil war in Lebanon, which ended in 1990.
“I want to congratulate you and congratulate Syria for your winning,” added Kfoury.
“This year’s season of Arab Idol is the first season that people’s opinions were divided on who is going to win,” said Egyptian music production expert Hassan Shafei, the fourth judge. “This is a plus and not a minus.”
As the winner, Shareef received just over $66,000, a contract with Platinum Records; production of three singles and a video clip; and a trip to the Seychelles courtesy of Emirates Airline, one of the main sponsors of the show this year.
The previous two Arab Idols got a 10-year contract. MBC spokesperson Mazen Hayek stressed that this is only for “practicality”, especially that the winners are still at the beginning of their artistic path.
“A three-year renewable contract is more practical,” Hayek said.
Good news for Idol lovers, Hayek confirmed that the singing competition will be back for a fourth season later next year or early 2016.
And, unless another shock exit like that of Ragheb Alama's is on the horizon, then the jury members shall remain the same!
Hayek concluded: “We are one family.”
You can watch Shareef's big winning moment right here!
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