Syria’s Hazem Sharif was crowned on Saturday Arab Idol 2014, the most watched show in the Middle East, beating off his two rivals Palestinian Haitham Khalailah and Majid Al Madani from Saudi Arabia. He came from the war battle-ravaged city of Aleppo won the annual "Arab Idol" singing contest late on Saturday, then prayed to God to end calamities in his country.
Hazim Sharif steered clear of specific political references in interviews and Facebook messages after his victory, which was broadcast to millions of viewers across the Middle East. In the government-held capital Damascus, people celebrated in restaurants and waved the Syrian national flag in the streets.
Judges Ahlam, from the United Arab Emirates, Lebanese singers Nancy Ajram and Wael Kfouri and Hassan Al Shafe’ei, an Egyptian music production expert, all cheered as Sharif accepted the award, the third to be given since the popular contest came to television screens in 2011.
On Friday, the contestants sang one last time at the Beirut studio staging the MBC program, scrambling for votes from audiences across the region.
In the latest finale, the winner -- Hazem Shareef of Syria -- broke with the trend and refused to carry his country's flag in his victory celebration.
Shareef wins 250,000 Saudi riyals ($66,000) in cash and a contract with Platinum Records for three singles and a video clip. A trip to the Seychelles courtesy of Emirates airline rounds off the prize.
Arab Idol - حازم شريف - يا طيرة طيري - الحلقات المباشرة