Smart Idol participants Suresh Kappoor, from left, Biji Mol, Ashraful Alam and Abdullah Al Mamun are living their dreams Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/XPRESS

DUBAI Hundreds of workers in the UAE are getting free training in music and dance thanks to Dubai-based NGO Smart Life.

The training is conducted on Fridays at various centres across Dubai as part of an initiative to identify talent. At the end of the year, the workers are given a chance to showcase their skills at an annual Smart Idol contest.

Enriching experiences

Indian carpenter Suresh Kappoor, 42, who was the second runner-up at last year’s event, said he couldn’t have come so far if he had not joined Smart Life’s singing classes.

“It has been my dream to sing, but I never thought I would get a chance as formal music training in India is expensive. I come from a small village near Palakkad, Kerala. There are no music centres there. If I had to learn music I would have had to go to the city,” said Kappoor.

Bangladeshi office assistant Abdullah Al Mamun, 27, said he can’t thank the NGO enough for helping him fulfil his singing aspirations. A bus picks Mamum up from his accommodation in Muhaisnah every Friday and takes him to Winchester School where he spends four hours learning classical music from experts who offer their services voluntarily.

“I just can’t wait for Fridays. Every week we learn something new. It has been a very enriching experience for me,” he said.

Biji Mol, 40, a bus conductor with Gems World Academy and last year’s winner, said she is routinely called to sing in private parties.

“I have performed at several events including some at my own school but I still have a long way to go. My family back home is very happy for me. I learnt music listening to the radio as a child. My parents could not afford sending me for music classes so I had to make do with what I had. But now I have this wonderful platform and I am very happy,” she said.

Following a stint with Smart Life, Bangladeshi CCTV operator Mohammad Ashraful Alam, 26, has also become a star in his own right. A finalist at the Smart Idol contest two years ago, Alam is now a full-fledged singer. His last performance was alongside Indian singer Somdatta Basu at the Global Village recently.

This year’s Smart Idol Contest will be held at Shaikh Rashid Auditorum, Indian High School, Dubai on April 22.