Gaza ‘Arab Idol’ star becomes symbol of Palestinian unity



Reuters

Published — Friday 21 June 2013

Last update 21 June 2013 5:30 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

GAZA: Palestinian fans and big business are rallying behind a 22-year-old singer from the Gaza Strip in a final push to vote him the next “Arab Idol” in a TV talent contest choosing a winner in Beirut tomorrow.
Mohammed Assaf is the first Palestinian to qualify for Arab Idol, the Middle East’s version of American Idol, in which contestants perform for judges and voting viewers.
His potent mix of good looks and emotional lyrics about ancestral Palestinian lands have helped to turn the young man from Gaza’s Khan Younes refugee camp into a star and symbol of unity for Palestinians plagued by deep internal divisions.
Voting in the pan-Arab competition is done through text messages. To encourage support for Assaf, one of three finalists, two Palestinian cellular telephone companies have cut their rates for ballots cast for him.
The Bank of Palestine is throwing money into the campaign, promising to match up to 350,000 texted votes — each one costs 1.50 shekels ($ .40) — for Assaf. It has placed billboards with his picture at major intersections in Gaza and the West Bank.
“Vote and the Bank of Palestine votes with you,” says a radio and television commercial broadcast in the Palestinian territories, where Assaf’s songs blare constantly from vehicles.
President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken to Assaf by phone and instructed Palestinian embassies abroad to urge expatriates to vote for him, calling the singer “the pride of the Palestinian and Arab nation.”
Egyptian Ahmed Jamal and a Syrian woman, Farah Youssef, are also finalists in the contest broadcast.
To keep the votes for Assaf coming, the Palestinian cellular operator Jawwal is offering cash prizes of up to $ 10,000 for customers who text in the highest number of ballots.
Some cafes in the West Bank city of Ramallah are offering to text a vote for every cup of coffee that customers order.
“By voting for Assaf, we are voting for Palestine, for us,” read a typical entry on his Facebook fan pages.
Huge celebrations are likely on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza if he wins.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Three citizens, aged above 65, and a 32-year-old expatriate have died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Riyadh raising the death toll to 471 in Saudi Arabia since June 2012, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.It also reported...
JEDDAH: Five hospitals and health centers across the Kingdom have been ranked among the 10 top hospitals in the Arab World, according to the Webometrics Ranking of World Hospitals 2015 conducted by Cybermetrics Lab. King Faisal Specialist Hospital an...
RIYADH: The children of the martyrs and wounded soldiers will be given preference for jobs in the organization, KACST President Prince Turki bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al-Saud said Riyadh on Tuesday.On an initiative from the Ministry of Education, a two-d...
JEDDAH: The laboratory of Al-Amal Complex for Mental Health was recently ranked fifth in the RIQAS program for biochemistry out of 120 laboratories. It also came in sixth in the same program for the department of hematology among the 60 participants,...
RIYADH: Anticipating high temperatures during the Haj season, the Ministry of Health has made arrangements to install more equipment to treat heatstroke patients among pilgrims, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Al-Mirghalani said following a meeting...
RIYADH: The National Water Company (NWC) has added a new feather to its cap by launching an e-branch (website www.nwc.com.sa) to serve the customers around the clock.The NWC, which aims to become the leading water utility in the Gulf that comes under...
DAMMAM: Traffic regulations in the Kingdom and many countries of the world dedicate the right lane of highways and roads to trucks as they are designed to carry heavy weights in contrast to the other lanes, which are allocated for lighter weight vehi...
RIYADH: The solar-power plant, “Layla,” in Aflaj province, will be opened shortly, Saleh Al-Awaji, chairman of Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), has said.The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) is one of the signatories, along with King Abdulaziz City for...
RIYADH: The expanded facility for machine readable passports (MRPs) at the Embassy of Pakistan will help the mission process over 1,200 applications on daily basis. The new setup was inaugurated on Tuesday.Saudi Arabia hosts the largest Pakistan comm...
RIYADH: The Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) has directed manufacturers and their agents in the Kingdom to strictly follow the safety regulations for the new cars to be marketed to the Kingdom beginning 2017.In a statement r...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Social Affairs recently honored 20 academically gifted orphans whom it had earlier sent to Japan for ten days to visit attractions that include cultural and educational institutions. Ministry of Social Affairs Undersecretary D...
JEDDAH: Prince Bandar bin Abdullah, member of the board of trustees of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Foundation for Humanitarian Action, spoke at the World Scout Jamboree in Japan. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the invi...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Health has issued a circular to all health sector employees to ensure they sterilize their hands prior to dealing with patients.The circular, issued by Deputy Minister for Public Health Dr. Abdul Aziz Abdullah bin Saeed, is in...
JEDDAH: The Indonesian Consulate and community have been conducting their 70th Independence Day celebrations for the past three months by having different cultural and social activities. On Tuesday, the consulate arranged a blood donation camp with t...
JEDDAH: The Specialized Penal Court in Jeddah on Tuesday issued a preliminary verdict on the imprisonment of two Saudi suspects to 38 years.The first suspect was charged with firing on the police center in Awamiyah, Qatif Province, while the other wa...

Stay Connected

Facebook