Ijaz Khawaja beat four finalists chosen after 4,000 auditions to win in the ‘du Singer of the Season’ category. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: An Abu Dhabi-based collection agent on Thursday won Dh35,000 as the top solo singer in the ‘Western Union Camp ka Champ’ (Champ of the Camp) signing contest in Dubai.

Ijaz Khawaja, a 28-year-old Pakistani expat, won the ‘du Singer of the Season’ category of the contest’s 12th season, held in Jebel Ali area.

Judges chose him from a total of four finalists competing on stage, who were the best of 4,000 auditions in the latest season.

Camp ka Champ, also dubbed as Dubai Idol, is a popular annual signing contest for blue-collar workers singing in Hindi and Urdu languages.

Most migrant workers in the UAE are from the Indian subcontinent where the two languages are widely spoken.

The contest is organised by Right Track Advertising, based in Dubai.

Khawaja, who has been working in the UAE for four years, said: “I just gave my best. I’m going to my brother’s wedding in Pakistan [on Friday] and I’ll break the good news to my family when I see them.”

Khawaja, who is from Islamabad, added: “I have this knack for singing in the same way whatever I hear playing. I hope I’ll be able to make a career out of singing someday.”

He said he has sang the title song for a drama series on India-based Zee TV; Khawaja is also part of an amateur band in the UAE. He works in collections for Majid Al Futtaim.

Meanwhile, the winning duo in the ‘Western Union Antakshari’ (team category) were Indian expats Krishna Devkumar Bond and Suheb Abdul Razak, both 25 years old and working in Ras Al Khaimah.

The duo won Dh35,000 worth of gold in total.

Bond, who is a pipe fabricator from India’s Bihar state, said: “I can’t say how happy I am; this was my first time on stage and I even won.”

Abdul Razak, whose job is record the weight of cargo, is from India’s Karnataka state. He said: “I would like to thank the organisers for giving me this opportunity. I used to sing at weddings in India.”

Salma Massoud, Marketing Director — Middle East and Africa, Western Union, said: “Many residents, while contributing to the growth aspirations of the UAE, also bring hopes and dreams of providing their families with a better life. With Camp ka Champ, we provide them with a platform to showcase and celebrate their talents.”

Abdul Wahed Juma, executive vice-president-Brand & Communications, du, said: “We are delighted to continue our ongoing support of the competition and celebrate hidden talent among our workers.”

Rupa Vinod, managing director, Right Track Advertising, said: “It is indeed very touching when these successful performers always credit Camp ka Champ for paving the way for their dreams. This year, and in the subsequent ones, we hope to groom more and more talent through this initiative.”