The 12 Arab finalists competing in the 14th season of Munshid Al Sharjah were announced during a live broadcast from the emirate's Al Ittihad Square Park, near the King Faisal Mosque, on Tuesday night.
The Islamic chanting talent contest, organised by Sharjah TV, selected the participants following a worldwide search for its next potential nasheed star.
Nasheed is an Islamic-inspired music genre that mainly consists of a cappella Arabic vocals accompanied by percussion.
The finalists will compete for the coveted title on December 15, 17 and 25 at Al Majaz Amphitheatre.
There will be double the prize money this time around, with the winner taking home Dh200,000 instead of Dh100,000.
A total of 12 finalists were whittled down from 1,432 entrants who auditioned online and in seven Arab countries between August 20 and September 3.
In-person auditions were held in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Oman, Morocco, Jordan and Egypt. An array of Arab nationalities, aged between 20 and 35, representing various styles and chanting schools participated, illustrating the richness of this ancient form of art.
Among the participants for the programme this year, 27 were from Saudi Arabia, 34 from Oman, 41 from the UAE, 270 from Egypt, 197 from Algeria, 205 from Morocco, 34 from Jordan, and 624 took part online.
The 12 finalists hoping to rise to stardom and forge their own paths through this competition are:
1. Abdulaziz Alawi from Saudi Arabia
2. Yahya Nadi from Egypt
3. Abdul Bari Karroum from Algeria
4. Ezz El Din Al-Esawy from Morocco
5. Muhammad Al-Masha'leh from Jordan
6. Uday Al Akhras from Palestine
7. Issa Shammout from Syria
8. Sultan Daoud from UAE
9. Abdullah Al Omari from Lebanon
10. Makhlid Al Jabry from Oman
11. Muhammad Al Rifai from Iraq
12. Muhammad Al Wafi from Libya
The final three evenings will feature performances by Egyptian singer Ali El Haggar on December 15, the Cultural Music Band on December 17, and Kuwaiti artist Humood Alkhudher on December 25.
Vocal coaches will guide the aspiring finalists on their journeys to the finals at Al Majaz Amphitheatre. The participants will perform in front of an audience and judges and the event will be broadcast live on Sharjah TV.
Salem Ali Al Ghaithi, director of Sharjah TV, said: “For over 15 years, Sharjah TV has been inspiring a generation of young singers to participate in the programme and present their best performances to entertain the audience and convey a beautiful image of the chanting legacy through this purposeful art and beautiful content.”
“The fact that 1,432 talented people applied for auditions reinforces the importance of supporting purposeful art that has an audience and a diverse heritage, and the ability to highlight the beauty of voices and their experience in performing various types of maqamat (system of melodic modes used in traditional Arabic music) — which only those proficient in them possess a deep experience in the art of chanting.”
Last season, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, crowned Zakaria Al Zirek from Morocco as the winner of season 13. Ahmed Samreen from Jordan came in second place and Aseel Jaber from Algeria took third.
Entry to the Munshid Al Sharjah show at Al Majaz Ampitheatre will be free of charge for the public for all three days on December 15, 17 and 25. More information is available at munshidsharjah.ae
Scroll through images of last year's judging panel below