Refugee turned superstar: new ‘Arab Idol’ sings for Palestine

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Hundreds of screaming fans stormed Dubai Media city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday as Mohammed Assaf, the crowned ‘Arab Idol’, touched down in the country for a meet and greet with fans.

Assaf, who received 60 million votes, had his music playing throughout the parking lot of the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) where people gathered in celebration. Chants and cheers rang out “we love you Assaf” and could be heard from ecstatic adults and children as the singing sensation arrived to the stage.

The 24 year old Palestinian refugee was welcomed to a host of screaming teenage girls, watery eyed adults and Palestinians from across the UAE. Some of those who turned up on Saturday told Al Arabiya English they came to express admiration for a star that brought ‘hope’ back to a struggling nation.

Assaf has proven to Palestinians across the world that even when nothing looks like it is working in your favor, dreams can still become a reality. The young man, originally from Gaza, brought together divided Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in celebration.

Assaf has promised to stand true to his laurels as a Palestinian and a refugee. “I have lived through the occupation and I belong to a nation and a country that has been under occupation for over 60 years and I will never forget the suffering of the Palestinian people,” Assaf told Al Arabiya English.

Assaf took to the stage and sang in front of his fans in Dubai, fans that had been waiting in queues for hours. People from all walks of life could be seen in the audience waving his posters, singing his music with a majority waving both Palestinian flags and scarfs in the air.

“I live the Palestinian cause every day. I was brought up in the Palestinian camp of Khan Younis and I know what it feels like to suffer. Trust me I will use my music, my singing, my art and my fame to give justice to the Palestinian cause,” Assaf said.

Assaf arrived in Dubai after making a trip back home to Gaza. The party that rules the enclave found itself in an awkward situation, deliberating whether it should embrace the young Gazan, given, singing and dancing appears to contradict the movement’s strict Islamist principles.

The crowned star heads to Jordan on Sunday for more celebrations before embarking on a Middle East tour. The singer will make his way back to the UAE given he has signed a record contract with Platinum Records, who will be producing his first album.

“We promise all fans who did not get a chance to meet with Mohammad Assaf today, that he will be back in Dubai for a concert in the near future,” MBC's commercial director and official spokesman Mazen Hayek told reporters.

Arab Idol Mohammad Assaf visits Dubai
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