Reciting competition The Voice Quran promises more than just thawab

Reciting competition The Voice Quran promises more than just thawab

Reciting competition The Voice Quran promises more than just thawab
Culture & Entertainment
Photo: Some of the participants of The Voice Quran / Courtesy of The Voice Quran

With a page out of MBC’s The Voice Kids, the TV singing competition with almost 2 million YouTube subscribers, Egyptian engineer Yasser Al Awadi has created a reality TV competition that’s offering youngsters EGP 150,000 ($8,495) in prizes for their Quran-reciting skills.

It all began when Yasser was performing the haj earlier this year. “After standing at Mount Arafat to pray, it hit me that I wanted kids to learn more about the Holy Quran and our religion,” he told My Salaam. He had a clear idea of what he wanted: to foster the Quran-reciting talents of children up to the age of 14 on a small-screen production similar to the world’s best-known reality TV competition formats.

The thought stayed in Yasser’s head until he approached his friend, Ali Fayez, a TV presenter on the satellite channel Al Assema. Together, they decided it was time to set things in motion. After getting approval from Al-Azhar University, all that was left was to source the funds to create a nation-wide competition.

One hundred children will get the chance to compete head-to-head in The Voice Quran. Finalists will be awarded EGP 50,000 for first place, EGP 40,000 for second, and EGP 30,000 for third. Fourth- and fifth-place winners will receive all-inclusive umrah trips with their families.

Egypt_The Voice Quran logoPhoto courtesy of The Voice Quran

“We set up a Facebook page, and within the first five days, we had received 120 entries. From all the talents, we’ll pick the best 100 auditions, narrow them to 20, then finally to 5,” Yasser continued. “So far, we’ve had amazing voices applying for the competition from all over Egypt, and a lot of sponsors are thrilled to collaborate with us for the prizes and to encourage more contestants to join the competition.”

But the real question here is, do these competitions really motivate children to compete for all the right reasons?

Mohamed El Refay and Adel Meselhy are the director and the presenter and content editor, respectively, for El Faezoon, a similar television show that’s been on air for 14 years. They say that Quran-reciting competitions are merely a tool that helps shed light on local talent.

“In our case, we usually announce the competition date only a month in advance; that’s never enough for a contestant to learn the entire Quran and perfect reciting it, which proves that the participants aren’t just doing it for the money,” said Adel.

Mohamed added that the children’s main motive behind participating is to motivate other children to compete too.

“We’ve previously had over a thousand contestants participate from all over Egypt, and that’s when we realised that these kind of TV shows are in high demand,” he said. “We just needed to figure out how to refine the show to increase engagement. By investing in high production values and developing the idea of the show, our local TV production soon turned into a global Quran memorisation contest.”

While the judges won’t be buzzing anyone off stage or turning their seats to show their backs to the contestants, the show’s set up is expected to look a lot like the The Voice Kids. It will be shot in one of Cairo’s biggest production studios; Yasser and his team want to go all out, though in the beginning, the competition was so small that it started out with just a logo mock-up of The Voice.

In collaboration with the Al-Azhar Centre for Islamic Scholars, three judges have been assigned to decide on the talents: Dr Ahmed Omar Hashem, Sheikh Mahmoud Al Tablawi and Sheikh Ahmed Sabri. Yasser proudly said, “Sheikh Mahmoud Al Tablawi will foster the top three winning talents and help guide them in their professional careers with his hard-earned expertise.”

Yasser points out that no actual memorisation of the Quran verses is necessary; points will be awarded based on voice, reciting skills, and public vote. The show is set to air every Friday at 6 pm from the end of November 2017 on satellite channel Al Assema.

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