TEL AVIV – Palestinians flooded the streets to celebrate the victory of a Bethlehem singer who bagged the title of 2017’s “Arab Idol.”
Yaqoub Shaheen beat out an Arab-Israeli who now resides in the U.S. and a Yemeni competitor on Saturday’s final of the talent show.
This was the fourth season of the hugely popular show, filmed in Lebanon and broadcast on the Dubai-based channel MBC1.
While shrouded in a Palestinian flag, the newly crowned “Idol” performed a patriotic song that included the lyrics: “My pledge and my oath, my blood is Palestinian.”
In Gaza and in the West Bank thousands of people watched the final on screens at local restaurants and coffee shops. The final was attended by a high-profile Palestinian delegation which included the son of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas himself was in Lebanon on an official visit, and invited the three finalists to join him at the embassy.
“It is a national day. A national historic day for Palestine,” Reuters quoted Mohammed Abu Ali, 40, from Gaza as saying. “There are faces of victory, political and musical. Today it is musical, but we hope one day we will have our political victory.”
Viewers of the show vote by text message to determine the winner. Palestinian and Yemeni politicians urged viewers to vote in support of their favored candidates and phone companies offered special deals to encourage voting, the report said.
Shaheen had in the past participated in multiple music festivals and competitions in the Middle East and in Europe. He was already well-known among Palestinians, having won the titles “Star of Palestine” in 2005 and “Palestinian New Star” at the New Star Palestinian talent show in 2012.