Dubai: Saleh Khalid Jasem Abdullah Ali Al Obaid, 20, has competed in International Quran contests five times before, but this is the first time he has won. The Kuwaiti student of Islamic studies said he was pleasantly surprised to hear his name announced as the winner of the Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA).
“I always dreamt of winning Dubai International Holy Quran Award, winning any international Quran competition is rewarding but to win DIHQA is ultimate, I’m really happy and I thank Almighty Allah for giving me this honour,” said Al Obaid, speaking about his triumph.
Al Obaid, most of whose family members are Hafiz (those who have memorised the Holy Quran), is currently being trained in different styles of Quran recitation with Shaikh Hamad Thani from Kuwait.
Asked about the pressures of performing on such a big stage, Al Obaid said: “When you recite the Quran and when you know what you are reciting, you forget the rest of the world. It is the most beautiful feeling you will ever get in life. I really love reciting the Holy Quran.”
The 20-year-old is currently embarking on a major Quranic project with his teacher, following through on dream that began when he started memorising the Quran at the age of 10, completing it when he was 13.
Famous Egyptian reciters Mohammad Ali Al Banna and Mustafa Esmail are among the favourites of Al Obaid who won Dh250,000 for his winning performance ahead of Bangladeshi Ain Al Arefin who bagged the second place.
Arefin, 19, who wants to study at Al Azhar University of Egypt, was among the favourites to win the competition along with Yemeni Abdul Rahman Ahmad Mohammad.
Arefin, who comes from a poor family in Dhaka, has competed in several international competitions and has won in Iraq and Saudi Arabia recently.
The teenager, who plans to go to Kuwait next year for another competition, dedicated his prize to his parents.
“I thank Allah for this honour, although I expected to win the first prize. I’m happy with the result. I will give this money to my father who works very hard for the family,” said the Bangladeshi, who won Dh200,000 for his second-place finish.
Chad’s Yaqoub Adam Hassan took a cash prize of Dh150,000 after finishing third.