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'Arab Idol:' Gaza singer Mohammed Assaf wins contest

Celebrations erupted in the Palestinian territories upon the news that Gaza wedding singer Mohammed Assaf had won.
Arab Idol Gaza singer Mohammed Assaf 06 22 13Enlarge
Fans of Palestinian singer Mohammad Assaf celebrate after he won the final of the Arab Idol competition in front house of Mohammad Assaf in Khan Yunis town in the southern Gaza Strip, 22 June 2013. (SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

It's official, Gaza wedding singer Mohammed Assaf is the new winner of Arab Idol.

Millions of fans in the Middle East have been glued to the regional television singing contest, especially Palestinians who have gathered in cafes and homes to watch Assaf compete.

The contest was held in Lebanon's capital, Beirut.

The 23-year-old singer who grew up in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip has given Palestinians a renewed sense of pride and they have been his loyal supporters throughout the competition.

So it should come as no surprise that celebrations erupted in the Palestinian territories when they heard the good news.

Fireworks in Gaza City and East Jerusalem ignited as people took to the streets, some dancing the traditional "dabka" dance.

More from GlobalPost: In-Depth Series: Israel faces a changed Gaza

Assaf was pronounced the winner Saturday night, following Friday's final round of competition where he went up against Ahmed Jamal from Egypt and Farah Youssef from Syria.

Assaf, said he almost didn't get to compete and that he had to plead with Hamas to let him leave Gaza to travel to Lebanon. Another Palestinian reportedly gave Assaf his audition slot, believing Assaf had a better shot at winning.

Following the win, Assaf was named Youth Ambassador for UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/hollyworld/arab-idol-gaza-singer-mohammed-assaf-wins-contest-palestinian