The sixth season of Arabs Got Talent will conclude with an epic episode beamed live from Beirut on Saturday.
Ever since its premiere in 2011, on the Dubai-based Pan Arab broadcaster MBC, the popular Arabic take of the American entertainment franchise has provided welcome relief from the glut of singing competitions on our screens.
That said, if you are a long-term viewer, you would have to admit that the quality of entrants has improved over the years. The mere act of juggling and charming the odd snake is not acceptable any more; real talent is required to earn the audience vote.
Saturday's episode will have the judging panel of Lebanese singer Najwa Karam, Egyptian comedian Ahmed Helmi and Dubai television executive Ali Jaber taking a back seat as the winner will be solely chosen by the television audience.
The line-up of finalists come from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Algeria.
One of the highlights of the finals will be the battle of acrobats. Among the show's favourites is Galhoum Gymnastics Academy. The large troupe, made up of nearly 40 young, photogenic gymnasts, have consistently thrilled audiences with their elaborate choreography and costumes inspired by Egypt's pharaonic culture. With an act from their homeland yet to win the title, Egypt's large population could provide them a sizeable boost when it comes to the final count.
The troupe will be up against Morocco's Duo Acrobats. No doubt the producers will make this slot the emotional centrepiece of the show. The act has the ingredients television loves; it is the story of a professional dancer father, who found that the best way to connect with his young daughter was through movement. Their routine is fast-paced and heart-warming – expect Karam to shed a tear or two if they are announced as winners.
They will be joined on stage by fellow Moroccans, the Messoudi Brothers. The trio of muscular hand-to-hand acrobats have received a few standing ovations from the studio audience for their poise and body-bending technique.
On the dance front, the Moroccan crew Black and White are also favourites to win the title. And that is because of their ingenious use of technology into their routines. The near dozen strong group play with stage lighting, screen projections and depth perceptions along with experimental soundtracks to create set pieces that dazzle the senses.
Lebanese crew Mayyas will surely benefit from the home-town support. Their colourful old school approach of mixing classic show tunes with Bollywood numbers is crowd pleasing. However, they will really have to step it up a few notches if they want to emerge winners from such a competitive bunch.
There is also the young Saudi dancer Layan Yahya, nine, from Tabouk, who has been charming the crowds with her mixture of lovely, yet overly sweet dance and mime routines that trades heavily on her cute factor. But this is the finals, however, she will need the performance of her young life to win the crowd.
Then again, her future as a children's television host in Saudi Arabia should be virtually assured by the time she returns home.
It will be interesting to see how the evocative Moroccan dance duo, Zyko and Poach, fare in the final. Where fellow dancing finalists are bringing thrill and charm to their performances, this low-key act are relying on their art and chemistry. Ever since their debut on the show last month, they have enthralled the crowd with their contemporary dance routine which is as fluid as it is classy.
Also bringing a touch of elegance to the finals is the Syrian duo Full Art. Their dance routine enchants with its melange of ballet and contemporary dance.
When it comes to Morocco's Human's, they will have to waste no time in impressing. The break dance group's last performance was good enough, but social media has been divided as to whether they deserve a place in the finals.
Bring the noise
If all that dancing is getting a bit much, we can rely on the Algerian crew Free Styl' Air to ramp up the excitement. The troupe offers a riot of styles and disciplines with breakdancers and bike acrobats all doing their own thing. It shouldn't work, but it just does, and the audience responds each and every time.
Arabs Got Talent airs on MBC 4 on Saturday at 10pm. For details, visit www.mbc.net