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?