Shot in Beirut, Lebanon for the MBC Network, it's a replica (almost) of the Brit and U.S. programmes but with Arab talent. They too have three judges, albeit kinder, gentler more patient ones: The judges are female singer Najwa Karam, Nasser Al Qasabi, and Ali Jaber. Since it's filmed in Lebanon, Najwa is not veiled and neither are most of the female talent. However, one of this season's finalists - tomboyish unveiled, 18-year-old Shamma Hamdan from the United Arab Emirates - isn't getting much support from back home because of her appearance. Her twitter account swelled to over 87,000 followers after her appearance on the TV show, but many comments have been downright mean-spirited, but not surprising given the conservative Emiratis.
Some tweets slammed her for her "un-Islamic" and "un-Emirati" appearance. Others were more cruel, making comments like "Shame on you. You don't represent anything Emirati. You should be pulled from the show." Still more made fun of her appearance.
"It was like fire, rumours spread about my origin, that I am not 'originally' Emirati, that I am from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India, even Afghanistan, cause, hey, I don't look like the typical Emirati," she said. In fact the family is from Al Raisi tribe.
"I am not a tomboy, not a boyat, not anything. I am just a musician who is a bit sporty," she says. "I like to surf when I am not playing music."
"Imagine I performed in an abaya and shayla while playing on a guitar? What would they say? I would be called the biggest sinner in the world."
Hamdan is one of the better ones, but there are some as lacking in talent as everywhere else, including this poor woman. The judges are definitely far more patient than the U.S. ones.