Ahmad Wagdi at the auditions of Arab Idol 3 (Courtesy: MBC)
Ahmad Wagdi at the auditions of Arab Idol 3 (Courtesy: MBC)

In Alexandria and Erbil, Arab Idol judges find the last performance of the day to be the best

When his closest friend died four years ago, Ahmed Wagdy, 26, from Mansoura, a city near Alexandria in Egypt, stopped singing. At the weekend, millions of television viewers watched him get his voice back.

He was the last person to stand before the judges at the Arab Idol auditions in Alexandria.

“I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I told you I didn’t even hum a tune in the four years,” he told them. “I thought, why not come to the audition and use this opportunity to see what my voice has been up to and whether I still have it in me.”

It took him several long seconds to compose himself and finally start singing, while the judges watched with growing impatience.

But when he began, their impatient stares turned to amazement.

Hassan El Shafei and Nancy Ajram were so impressed that they started arguing about who would get to hand Wagdy the Emirates Golden Ticket that would allows him to travel to Beirut and proceed to the second round of the competition.

Ajram slapped her own face in excitement and clapped in the middle of Wagdy’s audition. She held the ticket up to her face so he could see it as he sang, and all four judges handed it to him without any need to discuss it among themselves, or even vote. It was a unanimous decision – his was easily the best audition the judges had seen that day.

Wagdy joins nine other hopefuls from Alexandria, seven from Erbil and four from Berlin who were chosen to advance during Friday night's Arab Idol episode.

In Erbil, there were similar scenes when 23-year-old Ammar Kufi, from Kurdistan, was the last person to audition. He sang an Iraqi mawwal and his performance was the judges’ favourite of the day.

“I thank you,” El Shafei told him. “How tireless it is for us to listen to such a beautiful voice.”

Ahlam agreed. “I just want to hear more from you. I can’t imagine ever getting bored of listening to you.”

Kufi even received a positive comment from the show’s Lebanese newcomer Wael Kfoury. “You saved me,” he said. “People consider me very harsh, but I can show how easy I can become, in this instance. Let the people judge, not me. You have my vote.”

This season of Arab Idol, the third, is the first time the popular pan-Arab show has visited Berlin and the freezing weather there did not stop multitudes of Arabs – and a few Germans who did not speak a word of Arabic – to show up on for the auditions on March 2.

A 27-year-old Iraqi man failed to impress the judges with his unique style of music, but vowed to make it to Beirut on his own and “show everybody”.

Husein Jafar Musa, who goes by the name Sein, claimed to have invented a new form of music by combining Arabic music with RnB – which he calls R ’n’ Bic. This prompted Ajram to mutter to herself: “God help us all”.

El Shafei let him down a little more gently. “I think it’s a start,” he said. “It’s nice you’re doing something totally new, I encourage you in that.” However, Musa received a resounding “no” from all four judges.

Four more cities remain on Arab Idol’s auditions tour: Paris, Casablanca, Bahrain and a first-time stop for a reality talent contest in Palestine.

Arab Idol is on MBC1 on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm to midnight.


Anthony Joshua v Otto Wallin, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Deontay Wilder v Joseph Parker, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Dmitry Bivol v Lyndon Arthur, 12 rounds, light heavyweight

Daniel Dubois v Jarrell Miller, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Filip Hrgovic v Mark de Mori, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Arslanbek Makhmudov v Agit Kabayel, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Frank Sanchez v Junior Fa, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Jai Opetaia v Ellis Zorro, 12 rounds, cruiserweight

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8


2.15pm: Handicap (PA) Dh60,000 1,200m.

Winner: AZ Dhabyan, Adam McLean (jockey), Saleha Al Ghurair (trainer).

2.45pm: Maiden (PA) Dh60,000 1,200m.

Winner: Ashton Tourettes, Sam Hitchcott, Ibrahim Aseel.

3.15pm: Conditions (PA) Dh60,000 2,000m.

Winner: Hareer Al Reef, Gerald Avranche, Abdallah Al Hammadi.

3.45pm: Maiden (PA) Dh60,000 1,700m.

Winner: Kenz Al Reef, Gerald Avranche, Abdallah Al Hammadi.

4.15pm: Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup (TB) Dh 200,000 1,700m.

Winner: Mystique Moon, Sam Hitchcott, Doug Watson.

4.45pm: The Crown Prince Of Sharjah Cup Prestige (PA) Dh200,000 1,200m.

Winner: ES Ajeeb, Sam Hitchcott, Ibrahim Aseel.


Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5


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Elite men
1. Amare Hailemichael Samson (ERI) 2:07:10
2. Leornard Barsoton (KEN) 2:09:37
3. Ilham Ozbilan (TUR) 2:10:16
4. Gideon Chepkonga (KEN) 2:11:17
5. Isaac Timoi (KEN) 2:11:34
Elite women
1. Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:19:15
2. Hawi Feysa Gejia (ETH) 2:24:03
3. Sintayehu Dessi (ETH) 2:25:36
4. Aurelia Kiptui (KEN) 2:28:59
5. Emily Kipchumba (KEN) 2:29:52

Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1
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Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Structural weaknesses facing Israel economy

1. Labour productivity is lower than the average of the developed economies, particularly in the non-tradable industries.
2. The low level of basic skills among workers and the high level of inequality between those with various skills.
3. Low employment rates, particularly among Arab women and Ultra-Othodox Jewish men.
4. A lack of basic knowledge required for integration into the labour force, due to the lack of core curriculum studies in schools for Ultra-Othodox Jews.
5. A need to upgrade and expand physical infrastructure, particularly mass transit infrastructure.
6. The poverty rate at more than double the OECD average.
7. Population growth of about 2 per cent per year, compared to 0.6 per cent OECD average posing challenge for fiscal policy and underpinning pressure on education, health care, welfare housing and physical infrastructure, which will increase in the coming years.

Suggested picnic spots

Abu Dhabi
Umm Al Emarat Park
Yas Gateway Park
Delma Park
Al Bateen beach
Saadiyaat beach
The Corniche
Zayed Sports City
Kite Beach
Zabeel Park
Al Nahda Pond Park
Mushrif Park
Safa Park
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Al Qudrah Lakes 

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Ziina users can donate to relief efforts in Beirut

Ziina users will be able to use the app to help relief efforts in Beirut, which has been left reeling after an August blast caused an estimated $15 billion in damage and left thousands homeless. Ziina has partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise money for the Lebanese capital, co-founder Faisal Toukan says. “As of October 1, the UNHCR has the first certified badge on Ziina and is automatically part of user's top friends' list during this campaign. Users can now donate any amount to the Beirut relief with two clicks. The money raised will go towards rebuilding houses for the families that were impacted by the explosion.”


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

All We Imagine as Light

Director: Payal Kapadia

Starring: Kani Kusruti, Divya Prabha, Chhaya Kadam

Rating: 4/5

Need to know

The flights: Flydubai flies from Dubai to Kilimanjaro airport via Dar es Salaam from Dh1,619 return including taxes. The trip takes 8 hours. 

The trek: Make sure that whatever tour company you select to climb Kilimanjaro, that it is a reputable one. The way to climb successfully would be with experienced guides and porters, from a company committed to quality, safety and an ethical approach to the mountain and its staff. Sonia Nazareth booked a VIP package through Safari Africa. The tour works out to $4,775 (Dh17,538) per person, based on a 4-person booking scheme, for 9 nights on the mountain (including one night before and after the trek at Arusha). The price includes all meals, a head guide, an assistant guide for every 2 trekkers, porters to carry the luggage, a cook and kitchen staff, a dining and mess tent, a sleeping tent set up for 2 persons, a chemical toilet and park entrance fees. The tiny ration of heated water provided for our bath in our makeshift private bathroom stall was the greatest luxury. A standard package, also based on a 4-person booking, works out to $3,050 (Dh11,202) per person.

When to go: You can climb Kili at any time of year, but the best months to ascend  are  January-February and September-October.  Also good are July and August, if you’re tolerant of the colder weather that winter brings.

Do not underestimate the importance of kit. Even if you’re travelling at a relatively pleasant time, be geared up for the cold and the rain.

Bundesliga fixtures

Saturday, May 16 (kick-offs UAE time)

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (4.30pm) 

RB Leipzig v Freiburg (4.30pm) 

Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (4.30pm) 

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn  (4.30pm) 

Augsburg v Wolfsburg (4.30pm) 

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach (7.30pm)

Sunday, May 17

Cologne v Mainz (4.30pm),

Union Berlin v Bayern Munich (7pm)

Monday, May 18

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen (9.30pm)

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
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Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
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Transmission: Eight-speed auto
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0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
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Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
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The five pillars of Islam

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The specs: 2024 Mercedes E200

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cyl turbo + mild hybrid
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Torque: 320Nm at 1,800rpm +205Nm hybrid boost
Transmission: 9-speed auto
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Price: From Dh205,000 (estimate)

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  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures