Get ready for a television grudge match with news that Emirati diva Ahlam and Lebanese crooner Ragheb Alama are set to appear as mentors in the next season of The Voice Ahla Sawt.
Broadcast by the Dubai network, MBC, the regional spin-off of the popular television franchise is set to return to our screens later in the year.
For its sixth season, the celebrity coaching panel underwent a shake up, with Lebanese singers Elissa and Assi El Helani being replaced with Alama and Moroccan singer Samira Said. They join last season's winning coach Ahlam and Egyptian pop-star Mohamed Hamaki.
The feud dates back to 'Arab Idol'
Despite the latter and Said's music-industry pedigree, all eyes will be on Ahlam and Alama, who will cross paths once again after their stormy stint in the first two seasons of Arab Idol from 2011 to 2013.
It was a period where nearly every episode of the programme saw the stars criticising each other's judging styles.
While it delivered bumper ratings, Ahlam's uncompromising and brutal candour with contestants clashed with the calmer and positive nature of Alama. Ultimately, it proved too much for Alama, as he left the show after two seasons.
Speaking to The National a few months after that decision, Alama, whose hits include Nasini El Donya and Saharouny El Leil, shed light on his experiences working with Ahlam.
"At a personal level, I have nothing against Ahlam. But I also must say that some of things she says to the contestants on the show are too negative and that is something that I can never accept," he said in February 2014.
“I believe, as judges, we are there to help the contestants. Now, I agree with many of Ahlam’s comments regarding contestants; some are indeed not good enough, but we should say that in a non-negative way," he said.
"I don’t think we should be there on the show to destroy people."
Speaking to the press during that season, Ahlam said that her clashes with Alama were purely professional.
"Yes we have differing opinions but when we argue it is because we care about the people on stage," she said. "We want what is best for them. This is why there is also a big respect between both of us as well."
A clash of styles
It will be interesting to see how that affection is displayed on the screen soon. Unlike Arab Idol, where the contestants are battling it out among themselves, The Voice Ahla Sawt has the high-profile stars taking a far more active role by being a coach on the programme.
Such a move forced Ahlam to change her tact. The Emirati star, whose songs include Malhofa Le Sotek and Ana Hoby Rekadah, dialled down her antics and surprised television viewers last year with her more nuanced approach as mentor.
Her perceptive advice – although delivered fiercely at times – on everything from artistry to fashion, resulted in her contestant, the Iraqi singer Dumooa Tahseen, winning the competition.
With Alama on the panel, it will be interesting to see whose approach to talent development is more effective.
Will Alama’s positive and soft approach ride him to victory? Or, will Ahlam’s tough love approach prove successful once again?
We can’t wait for the new season to arrive to find out.