Munshid Al Sharjah: Tension rises following elimination of three contestants in semi-final

Six performers will now compete to win the final on December 25

A full audience at Al Majaz Amphitheatre watching the Munshid Al Sharjah event. Photo: NNCPR
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The Munshid Al Sharjah journey ended for three performers in the semi-final of the event on Saturday.

Following impressive live performances in the semi-final at Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Sultan Daoud Al-Ali from the UAE, Makhlid Al Jabry from Oman and Ezz El Din Al Esawy from Morocco were eliminated, leaving six remaining contestants to compete in the final on December 25.

The six are Yahya Nadi from Egypt, Muhammad Al Rifai from Iraq, Muhammad Al Masha'leh from Jordan, Issa Shammout from Syria, Abdullah Al Omari from Lebanon and Muhammad Al Wafi Idris from Libya.

The judges, Tunisian artist Lotfi Bouchnak, Egyptian artist Mahmoud Al Tohamy and Emirati munshid ambassador Ahmed Bukhatir, praised the contestants' performances and choices of lyrics and tunes, which piqued the audience's interest and advanced them to the final stage.

Youngest contestant is eliminated

Munshid Al Sharjah Season 14 finalist Makhlid Al Jabry from Sultanat of Oman

Omani performer Al Jabry, 20, may have been eliminated but he assures The National that he was the happiest of all contestants.

“When the elimination announcement started, I wasn't scared at all. I had a feeling that I would be eliminated because of the meagre voting. I have more than 100,000 followers on social media, but they are all busy and don't like to vote,” he says.

Al Jabry discovered he had a beautiful voice at the age of nine and following the competition, he plans to further hone his skills.

“Upon my return to my homeland, I have seven works in my bucket list with two supporters: Ibrahim Al Manthari, a well-known music composer and director, who was a judge during the auditions in Oman, as well as my uncle who is a music composer. My goal is to release an album, God willing. For me, nothing is impossible,” he says.

After the contest, Al Jabry vows to keep in touch with his fellow contestants.

“For sure I will keep in touch with the contestants after the show. We are not just singers but have become like brothers. We lived together for more than a month. It will be hard to say goodbye to them. God willing, I will come and attend the next seasons of Munshid Al Sharjah. Fortunately, Sharjah is only a four-hour drive from Oman.

“Though I didn't reach the finals, I feel that I am already a star after Munshid Al Sharjah. Today is the beginning of my journey. I shall never forget this day.”

Egypt's contestant made personal sacrifices to compete

Yahya Nadi from Egypt, who was among the six contestants who qualified for the finals, performs at the semifinal

When Munshid Al Sharjah notified Egyptian competitor Nadi that he was shortlisted as one of the finalists in November, he had to postpone his wedding, which was scheduled for the same day as his flight to Sharjah.

However, his fiancee wished him good luck and gave him her blessings.

Despite a spectacular performance with a fully engaged audience, Nadi says he wasn't very pleased with his performance, considering that other contestants are stronger. He was nervous during the elimination announcement but expected to reach the finals.

“I was super happy to pass the semi-final, praise be to God,” he says.

Nadi applied for the contest five times in a row but refused to give up.

“I wasn’t lucky the first four times, but I believe that it is God’s will. He chose the right timing for me.

“Waseem Faris, my vocal coach, did a fantastic job with me today, and I have learned a lot from coach Mustafa Hamdo as well before the contest.”

Faris, who served as Nadi’s vocal mentor, praised his performance saying: “It was the first time I had heard a voice that was authentically Egyptian.”

Mustafa Hamdo enthralled fans

Guest star Mustafa Hamdo performs at Munshid Al Sharjah. Photo: NNCPR

In the semi-final, Mustafa Hamdo, the vocal trainer and winner of Munshid Al Sharjah's fourth season in 2009, led his Al Turath band and dazzled the audience with a selection of anashids and well-received heritage songs.

The National asked Hamdo where he sees himself in five years.

“My chanting journey would not have taken me to this successful stage had Munshid Al Sharjah not been a stop along the way.

"As a result of the programme, a lot of time and effort has been saved. In the next five years, the same amount of effort and time will be spent as in the previous 10. Compared to before, my work has expanded significantly.”

How music can ease awkward situations

This season's vocal coaches from left, season four finalist Mustafa Hamdo from Syria, acclaimed Iraqi musician and composer Waseem Faris, and Egyptian music producer Sherif Mohsen. Photo: NNCPR

For harmony with the choir, and with the aim of keeping the finalists' performances within the right tone, composer and producer Sherif Mohsen provided a background musical component, playing the piano and bass instruments.

The challenges Mohsen faced were more mental than musical.

“Sometimes I would not understand what they said. I had to deal with an array of Arab nationals originating from 12 different Arab countries, ranging in age from 20 to 35,” he says. “In addition, the level of understanding varies, so I had to come up with alternative solutions to make my message clear, since each participant spoke a different dialect of Arabic. A saving grace is the fact that music is an international language.”

Salem Ali Al Ghaithi, director of Sharjah TV, who oversaw the backstage activity and enthusiastically welcomed the contestants, told The National: “We consider Munshid Al Sharjah more of a school than a competition aimed at discovering Arab talents.

“The fact that we accommodated the contestants in one place during their stay in Sharjah and took them on tours created a strong bond between them. The bond between Arabs is inherent to our culture."

The final guest performer

The crowd will be treated to a special performance by Humood AlKhudher, a singer and music producer from Kuwait, on December 25. Photo: NNCPR

The final round of Sharjah Munshid will feature guest performer Humood AlKhudher, a singer and music producer from Kuwait known for his emotional and meaningful compositions. He released acclaimed albums such as What's Next?, I Will Become Better and Idea.

Tickets are free for the Munshid Al Sharjah final on December 25 and can be obtained at Al Majaz Amphitheatre entrance. Parking is available at the adjacent government departments complex; buses will transport the visitors to and from the venue. More information is available and voting can be done at munshidsharjah.ae

Updated: December 26, 2022, 11:32 AM