And the winner of Arab Idol is… Palestine!

This is pretty cool. Actually, more than pretty cool. This is AWESOME. Yacoub Shaheen made history this weekend as he became the second Palestinian to win Arab Idol. This competition, which may sound familiar to my fellow Americans growing up with American Idol, brings together competitors from all across the region to show off their talents as singers – all while representing their hometown with pride.

 

And that’s just what Shaheen did.

 

Originally from Bethlehem, Shaheen has participated in a number of competitions in the past, but none with a following like Arab Idol. With millions of viewers throughout the Arab world and across the globe, his win helped put Palestine back on the map. Though the finale itself took place in Beirut, Palestinians gathered around a huge jumbotron in the center of Manger Square in Bethlehem, where the show was being broadcasted, to watch Shaheen win first place. I wish I could have been there! Viewers celebrated together dancing in the streets late into the night. The song Shaheen sang after he won, draped in a huge Palestinian flag, surrounded by the first Palestinian to win Arab Idol in 2013 and a fellow Palestinian finalist from this year, is a beautiful song of hope of Palestine.

 

Needless to say, I was in tears.

 

Mabruk ya Yacoub! Thank you for showing the world through song how beautiful our homeland is and for being a positive light when it often feels like a time of darkness.

Check out this great short video Al-Jazeera put together for the final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12kEr2T8WAw

 

The event was widely covered in the media:

 

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