Emirati star Fayez Al Saeed launches pandemic-friendly television talent show

All contestants will be required to submit their entries via home video recordings

Fayez Al Saeed. Courtesy Fayez Al Saeed
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Fancy becoming the next Arab pop sensation from the comfort of your own home?

Emirati singer and composer Fayez Al Saeed is on the lookout for the next music star with a television talent quest hosted and judged by him.

Set to be screened later in the year on Abu Dhabi TV, Ghanni Ma' Fayez (Sing with Fayez) has been produced with the pandemic in mind. The show is inviting contestants between the ages of 16 and 24 from around the Arab world to audition and compete through home performances shot on mobile phones and shared on social media.

These uploads will be judged by a combination of online voting and by Al Saeed, with the help of celebrity guests who will give their verdicts from separate locations.

Despite the competition and final rounds being aired live, none of the contestants will perform physically on stage as a safety precaution against Covid-19. While the official prize is yet to be revealed, a statement from Abu Dhabi TV said contestants are vying for a chance to collaborate with Al Saeed on new music.

In the meantime, a call out has been made on social media this week for unsigned talents to audition for the show.

How can you take part?

It is a simple process. All you need to do is record a 60-second video of yourself singing a song of your choice in a cappella before uploading it to TikTok under either or both hashtags #غني_مع_فايز and #GhanniMa3Fayez.

Early pre-recorded episodes will see Al Saeed sift through these entries before choosing 24 contestants to appear in the live rounds.

What happens on the show?

The competition’s first phase, which spans four episodes, will have all contestants showcasing their vocal prowess across various styles. Each entrant will record a song of their choice and one chosen by Al Saeed. After providing his thoughts on all tracks, Al Saeed will then open it up to the television audience who will cast their votes on the programme’s TikTok account. Three contestants will be shed from each episode of this round.

With 12 left in the competition, the next three episodes will have contestants upload another song of their choice and one specially chosen by a guest celebrity judge. The viewers once again have the final say through an online vote.

The final episode will see three contestants battling it out to become the competition’s inaugural winner.

Fayez Al Saeed: A singer-songwriter with a royal touch

Known for his sprightly Khaleeji pop tracks and elegant ballads, Al Saeed has amassed a solid catalogue of hits including #Selfie and Ana Yensa (I Am Forgetful).

His greatest achievement, however, is being an official composer for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai. With Sheikh Hamdan writing and releasing poems to the public under the pen-name Fazza since he was a teen, he was impressed by Al Saeed's 1996 landmark debut album, Sa'at Wa'ed (The Hour of Promise), with the royal approaching the musician to turn some of his poetry – written in the classical Arabic form of Nabati – into songs.

The partnership is still going to this day, with the duo ­releasing a string of regional hit songs featuring Fazza's poetry. Sheikh Hamdan's words have been performed by some of the biggest voices in Arab music, ­including Syrian singer Assala Nasri, in 2004's Rouh wa Rouh (Just Go Away); Rashid Menhali, who crooned 2005's Limany Fi Mahjir Ayounak (Hold Me In Your Eyes) and Mohammed Abdo, who took the lead on the 2016 song Sahet Al Sha'ar (The Poet's Space).

Final tip for contestants: focus on the lyrics

In an interview with The National last year, Al Saeed said he considers himself to be a composer first, and apart from his work with Sheikh Hamdan, he is always on the lookout for lyrics that inspire him. "That's what gets the process started," he said. "I love great lyrics. I read and study them intently. They give the song its mood, shape and style. The lyrics are absolutely the key."