It’s official, Gaza wedding singer Mohammed Assaf is the new winner of Arab Idol.
Millions of fans in the Middle East have been glued to the regional television singing contest, especially Palestinians who have gathered in cafes and homes to watch Assaf compete.
The contest was held in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.
The 23-year-old singer who grew up in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip has given Palestinians a renewed sense of pride and they have been his loyal supporters throughout the competition.
So it should come as no surprise that celebrations erupted in the Palestinian territories when they heard the good news.
Fireworks in Gaza City and East Jerusalem ignited as people took to the streets, some dancing the traditional “dabka” dance.
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Assaf was pronounced the winner Saturday night, following Friday’s final round of competition where he went up against Ahmed Jamal from Egypt and Farah Youssef from Syria.
Assaf, said he almost didn’t get to compete and that he had to plead with Hamas to let him leave Gaza to travel to Lebanon. Another Palestinian reportedly gave Assaf his audition slot, believing Assaf had a better shot at winning.
Following the win, Assaf was named Youth Ambassador for UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees.