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Showbiz Arabia: X Factor Arabia to start this month

New series of talent show to begin on February 21

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Elissa will be one of the judges on this month's X Factor Arabia. “I had known about the popularity of the X Factor; however, I became really enthusiastic about being part of the Arab version after I knew who was working on it."

Not one, but two major TV singing competitions will launch this month. It was only last week that Arab Idol’s press conference was held in Dubai to launch Season 2 – now, the producers of the new look X Factor Arabia have announced that the show will kick off on February 21.

Featuring the crème de la crème of stars from the Middle East, X Factor Arabia’s judge line-up is probably the most exciting since Britney Spears in the American version. Elissa, Wael Kafoury, Hussain Al Jasmi and Carole Samaha have signed on to rival their Arab Idol counterparts. Three of the stars appeared at a media event in Cairo recently to reveal more about the show (Samaha was unable to attend due to a clash in schedules).

“I have always welcomed new ideas or new projects into my career, and if they are suitable for me, then why not take part?” said Elissa. “I had known about the popularity of the X Factor; however, I became really enthusiastic about being part of the Arab version after I knew who was working on it. Add to that the big names on the judges’ panel, and I was completely sold.

“I am so happy to be part of a huge project that will find that one talent who has it all.”

For Lebanese superstar Kafoury, he admitted that X Factor Arabia was something “completely new” to him.

“There is a great responsibility in overseeing the training of the talent, not to mention choosing the best talent that’s worthy of winning the title. So it is going to be a huge job,” he said. “I am really excited about the panel as well, because all of us have tremendous respect for each other, and get on really well. It will be interesting to see how it becomes once we’re fighting for our own categories.”

One star that Showbiz Arabia readers will no doubt look forward to seeing is the UAE’s very own Al Jasmi. The Emirati superstar apparently signed his contract for the show half an hour before the filming of the first episode.

“We started the talent search in Dubai, and I honestly feel that it is time to start sharing my expertise with more home-grown talent, and I’d love to see Khaleeji talent from the UAE and beyond making it into the show.”

He added: “I know this programme will be a huge hit with the audience.”

X Factor Arabia debuts on 21 February, and will be televised every Thursday and Friday on CBC Egypt, Rotana Khaleejiya and MTV Lebanon.

News In brief

Sultan to be honoured in Dubai

MTV nominee Ahmad Sultan is making a special appearance in Dubai today.

The Moroccan singer, who was among the final five nominees of the 2012 MTV EMAs for Best Worldwide Act, will appear at Virgin Megastore, Mall of the Emirates, to accept his MTV award for Best Africa, Middle East and India Act. You can catch the Jailer hitmaker between 11am and 1pm.

Sultan will be presented with this accolade by MTV Middle East channel director Phillip Sissons.

All for love

Happy Valentine’s Day. To celebrate the day of love, few celebs are making their way to the emirates for some special events.

First up, Tunisian superstar Latifa and Lebanese pop star Wael Jassar will be performing at Asateer at Atlantis, The Palm, later on tonight. At the time of going to print, tickets are still available for purchase from the venue.

Meanwhile, for those preferring something a little more budget friendly, Egyptian sha’abi singer Sa’ad Al Soghayar will perform live at Koufa Restaurant in Oud Metha. And in Abu Dhabi, The Voice mentor Ragheb Alama performs at Abu Dhabi Country Club, supported by Xriss Jorr and Chris from The Voice.

Arabia online

“I miss you so much! Currently on my way to the studio to edit my upcoming music video.”

— Rumour has it Tamer Hosney’s latest music video will feature Akon.

“I’m three months pregnant. I will be staying in Egypt to give birth; I don’t want to deliver abroad for the sake of dual nationality.”

— Egyptian actress Basma is expecting her first child with hubby politician Amr Hamzawy.