Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hosted winner of the Arab Idol singing competition Yacoub Shaheen in his office in Ramallah on Saturday, when the president congratulated Shaheen, who last week became the second Palestinian to claim the title since the popular TV contest premiered in 2011.
Abbas expressed his pride over Shaheen's victory, saying that he believed art "is a an important tool in conveying a message to the whole world on behalf of the Palestinian people and their longing for freedom," according to a statement released by the president's office.
The president said that Shaheen's win was "proof that Palestinian youth are creative and distinguished," and that the Palestinian people have the right to be free and independent in their own state.
After the meeting, the 23-year-old singer visited the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
"Thank god I was able to bring happiness to my people who have been suffering for years and are still suffering," he said.
Shaheen, a Syriac-Palestinian and member of Bethlehem's small community of Assyrians, competed against fellow Palestinian Amir Dandan and Yemeni national Ammar Muhammad in the final round of the pan-Arab singing contest's fourth season.
It was the first time in the program's history that two of the remaining three finalists were from the same national background.