Wednesday, April 05, 2006
We Arabs always say that we will never unite or even agree on something. This is not true. Two things managed to unite Arabs so far. Um Kalthoum and LBC's Star Academy.
Um Kalthoum was an Egyptian singer who died over 30 years ago. Whenever her live concerts were aired, millions would tune in from Morocco till the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf for you Iranians out there). Her funeral was one of history's largest gathering of people.
And now Star Academy. A TV reality show that airs on Lebanon's satellite channel LBC. The show features a group of young male and female candidates from across the Arab world who compete in singing, dancing, and acting. Millions would then vote for the winner via telephone, SMS, and the internet.
The show was harshly attacked by religious leaders (who else) from across the region. They were not bothered by the singing and dancing as much as they were unhappy with the fact that the candidates had to live together in the same academy in Beirut.
Fatwas were issued, a Saudi mobile phone company banned its subscribers from voting, and the Algerian government stopped the show's airing on the local channel, yet all that didn't stop the 19283645 emails and SMS I got urging me to vote for the Egyptian candidate Hani!