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Coming soon: Palestine's Got Talent Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Coming soon: Palestine's Got Talent

Palestinian Mohammad Assaf won the Arab spin-off of Pop Idol [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 January, 2016

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Palestine will soon have its own spin-off of the popular Got Talent TV show, a first for an Arab country.

A Palestinian version of the global sensation Got Talent TV series is set to hit the air waves soon and show the world the extraordinary hidden talents of the occupied territories.

'Palestine's Got Talent' will showcase talented Palestinians from both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and feature contestants with a variety of talents, such as singing, dancing, comedy, magic, and rapping.

"The idea started out as a show called 'Gaza's Got Talent' but it expanded after we got in touch with the parent company. The show will put the spotlight on talented people throughout the whole of Palestine," the show's chief director, Nidaa Aweidah, told The New Arab's Arabic service.

"We wanted to start with Gaza because of the siege and so we could support talented Palestinians, who wouldn't have ordinarily have the opportunity and help export their talents to the world," Aweidah said.

"It's amazing how many talented people there are in Gaza, according to study our team conducted they number at around 13 thousand," he added.

Palestine will be the first Arab country to have its own franchise of the TV talent show, which has spawned spin-offs in over 50 countries.

The pan-Arab version of the show 'Arab's Got Talent' was first broadcast on Saudi satellite station MBC in January 2011, the fifth season is currently in production.

In 2013, Gazan wedding singer Mohammad Assaf won the Arab version of Pop Idol.

Even his journey to reach the auditions was fraught with difficulties - he was delayed for two days at Rafah border crossing before managing to climb over a wall into the Cairo audition's venue.

During the 2013 competition, broadcast throughout the Arab world and beyond, he quickly gained audience popularity as he performed a wide variety of numbers, from Palestinian nationalist anthems to the hits of the Backstreet Boys.

In the series finale - in which he sang "lift up your keffiyeh", he was awarded the title Arab Idol, and has capitalised on his stardom for the past couple of years.

During the 2014 Gaza war, he released a track encouraging the Gaza's beleaguered population, singing "lift your head up high...it's your weapon, the origin of humanity is dignity".

Anger over Jewish encroachment on the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, has recently contributed to a wave of Palestinian street attacks and protests that erupted in October and have drawn a brutal response from Israeli security forces.

At least 147 Palestinians have been killed, 93 of whom Israel described as assailants. Most of the others died during violent demonstrations. In the same period, Palestinian stabbings, car-rammings and gun attacks have killed 24 Israelis and a US citizen.

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