Dubai: Spreading its light all over the globe, the Dubai International Quran Awards (DIHQA) is this year being broadcast across five continents through five different satellites, reaching homes as far away as Alaska on one side and Auckland on the other.

Until recently, the live coverage was available only on NileSat, reaching viewers only in Middle East and North Africa. However, over the last 4-5 years, the broadcast has been relayed through more satellites including ArabSat, IntelSat as well as Galaxy19, and this year it is coming on HispaSat as well that reaches North and Latin America. This has seen the coverage reach 17 million homes across the globe.

Interestingly, the annual event has attracted more viewers from the Western countries like UK, Germany and United States of America than the Middle Eastern countries.

“Usually we have a lot of viewers from the region but this year as we have managed to reach European and American continents, we have seen a lot of interest from the Western countries. In fact, they are leading in viewership, which goes to show how popular DIHQA has become over the years,” said Ahmad Zahid, Head of DIHQA’s Media Unit and Member of the Organising Committee.

With the coverage spread across different platforms like TV, Internet and mobile, viewers have found it easier to connect and enjoy the beautiful renditions of Quran by contestants from different parts of the world.

More than TV, more viewers are enjoying the Quran recitation through live streaming on and through iPhone and android applications.

“66 per cent of our viewers are using mobile platform, while around 34 per cent are using PCs. Among mobile platforms most viewers connect through android and iPhone, but there are significant numbers of viewers still watching the programme on TV,” said Saleem Mirza, CEO of Video Vision, a UK-based firm that manages the global broadcast.

One of the reasons why the coverage has drawn more interest is the scintillating contest involving participants from 80-90 countries in what is considered as the biggest Quran recitation competition in the world.

“People from different countries follow the event closely as this is the biggest and most prestigious contest and they want to know how their countrymen are performing. Another important reason is that the coverage is available for everyone free of cost, which has helped take the popularity of the event to a new level,” added Zahid.

This year, the contest is being very closely fought with several contestants staking claim to the top spot with their soulful and impeccable renditions.

One such contestant is the 12 year old Bangladeshi boy, Nazmul Sakib, who performed to a packed house on Thursday night.

The young Hafiz from a farming family near Dhaka, Sakib, who recently won a top competition in India, has done well to impress everyone.

“Alhamdulillah (All praise to Allah) I have managed to perform well but I’m not sure of the position. There are others who have done well as well. I will accept whatever Allah blesses me with,” said Sakib, who is aspiring to become a Mufti as he grows up.

Another contestant who has given one of the very few impeccable performances is 20 year old Mohammad Bello Amma from Niger.

Son of an Islamic teacher and one of the ten Hafiz (One who has memorised the entire Quran) in his family, Amma gave a flowing rendition of the Holy verses, without ever committing a mistake. With a soothing voice to boot, the Shariah student is a strong contender for the top prize of Dh250,000.

The competition allows only one participant from a country and every contestant has to have memorised the entire Quran.

Each contestant has to answer five questions, two of which are completed backstage while three more are performed on stage.

Saturday will be the last day of the contest, which will include the best voice contest.

The closing ceremony will be held on Monday at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce building, where the winners will be announced and the Islamic Personality of the Year will be conferred. Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayyeb has been named the Islamic Personality this year.