Three singers have reached the end of their journey in Munshid Al Sharjah, the annual show that crowns the Muslim world’s next nasheed star.
Abdulaziz Alawi from Saudi Arabia, Uday Al Akhras from Palestine and Abdul Bari Karroum from Algeria were eliminated by the audience. They were among the 12 finalists who performed live for the judges at the quarter-finals on Thursday at Sharjah's Al Majaz Amphitheatre. Through their impressive performances, the contestants expressed patriotic and religious themes using traditional Inshad styles.
Taking the stage, they were accompanied by veteran backing vocalists of Munshid Al Sharjah for the lively performance, which was directed by Raed Al Dalati, who hails from Syria.
In support of their favourite contestants, cheering fans waved Arab countries’ flags, as well as photos of contestants and Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah.
Importance of team spirit for Saudi contestant
Despite the eliminations, the contestants share a united team spirit, on and off stage.
"The finalists and I have become more than brothers. We used to eat, hang out and spend the evenings together. Having to say goodbye to the contestants is what saddens me, not the elimination,” Alawi, 25, said.
“On stage, I wasn’t thinking about whether I would be eliminated or qualify for the next round because it would not allow me to perform well. I focused on my performance. Praise to God, I performed well thanks to my coach Mustafa Hamdo.”
And, having reached the final 12, he considers himself a winner already.
“Everyone dreams of being part of Munshid Al Sharjah," he said. "I am glad I was. I will certainly continue my journey in Inshad after the event."
Unbeatable spirit of Moroccan contestant
Ezz El Din Al Esawy, 21, earned high praise from the judges, who gave him a standing ovation following his dazzling performance.
"The judges' positive evaluation of my performance is an incentive for me to take it to the end," said the Moroccan singer.
“Initially, I chanted as a hobby, then I improved my nasheed skills before auditioning for the contest. I decided to participate in the contest on my own. No one from my family is here. The audience, however, was filled with Moroccans supporting me.
"Whether I win or not, I plan to continue my chanting journey because I value this purposeful art."
Who are the nine remaining contestants?
In the second round of the competition on Saturday, Sultan Daoud Al Ali from the UAE; Yahya Nadi from Egypt; Al Esawy from Morocco; Muhammad Al Masha'leh from Jordan; Issa Shammout from Syria; Abdullah Al Omari from Lebanon; Makhlid Al Jabry from Oman; Muhammad Al Rifai from Iraq; and Muhammad Al Wafi Idris from Libya will compete.
Who are the guest performers?
Thursday featured performances by acclaimed Egyptian singer and actor Ali El Haggar, known as the Golden Voice. He dedicated a song to Sharjah, written by poets Mohammed Al Buraiki, from the UAE, and Salim Al Shahbani, from Egypt.
Al Haggar mesmerised the audience with renditions from his extensive musical journey
Najm Al Dine Hashem, executive producer of Munshid Al Sharjah, said: “We are fortunate to have Ali Al Haggar as tonight’s guest performer. He has a rich portfolio of award-winning works with value-added content."
He said they endeavour to pick guests from across the Arab region based on fans' requests.
Munshid Al Sharjah, Al Turath Music Band, will perform on Saturday. The group, led by Mustafa Hamdou, will play Arabic heritage songs using traditional musical instruments.
At the final on December 25, there will be fierce competition between the remaining contestants to win the coveted title. The evening will be capped off with a special performance by Humood AlKhudher, a Kuwaiti singer and music producer.
Who are the vocal coaches?
Three vocal coaches are guiding the aspiring nasheed stars on their journey. They include acclaimed Iraqi musician and composer Waseem Faris, season four finalist Mustafa Hamdo from Syria, and Egyptian music producer and composer Sherif Mohsen.
Who are the judges?
The judging committee includes Tunisian artist Lotfi Bouchnak, Egyptian artist Mahmoud Al Tohamy and Emirati munshid ambassador Ahmed Bukhatir.
The judges thanked Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed for his unwavering support to Munshid Al Sharjah.
Today, the nasheed industry is on the rise thanks to the Munshid Al Sharjah.
Last season, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, crowned Zakaria Al Zirek from Morocco the winner. Ahmed Samreen from Jordan came in second place and Aseel Jaber from Algeria took third.
How to attend and vote?
Tickets are free for the finals on Saturday and December 25 and can be obtained at the Al Majaz Amphitheatre main entrance. Parking is available at the adjacent government departments complex, buses will transport the visitors to and from the venue.
To vote, visit munshidsharjah.ae