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'Arab Idol's' first contestant from Gaza grabs spotlight

28/05/2013 17:53

(CNN) -- One contestant on "Arab Idol," the Middle Eastern version of American Idol, has been drawing attention because of more than just his impressive vocals.
Mohammed Assaf, a 22-year-old college student, is the first "Arab Idol" finalist from Gaza. He gained popularity across the Middle East with his touching renditions of patriotic Palestinian songs.
He has been a judge favorite since the show began in March and has become a household name in both the West Bank and Gaza, where his poster hangs in restaurants, shops and homes.
The young singer has succeeded in achieving what the "two parties in Palestine failed to do -- unite Ramallah and Gaza," wrote parent network MBC in an article on the show's website.
Last weekend Assaf received a call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank.
"Abbas confirmed his support of the singer and said that Assaf has made Palestine and the Arab world proud, urging Palestinians and Arabs to vote for the singer," reported the official Palestinian news agency, WAFA.
It was no small task for Assaf to travel to Cairo to audition for the wildly popular show.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/16/world/meast/gaza-arab-idol-contestant

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