June 23 - A singer from a Gaza refugee camp wins Arab Idol talent show after capturing hearts and minds of millions of Arabs. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
A 22-year old Palestinian communications student won the popular TV talent show 'Arab Idol' on Saturday (June 22) following weeks competition in Beirut, Lebanon. Mohamed Assaf, who grew up in Gaza's Khan Younis refugee camp, beat two other finalists: A Syrian woman, Farah Youssef and and Egyptian man Ahmed Jamal. Even before he was declared the winner, Assaf had shot to fame singing Palestinian and Arab national songs. His polished good looks also won the hearts of many women who compared him to the late Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez. Palestinian cities erupted in joy when Assaf won the song contest final held in Beirut providing a welcome break from the grinding conflict with Israel. After the victory, Assaf was named by the U.N. as its first youth ambassador to Palestinian refugee camps in the territories and in neighbouring countries. He is expected to visit the West Bank to perform.