Of Two Champs of Labour Camps

DUBAI - After 14 hours of hard work and less than five hours of sleep, a labourer would, perhaps, not give much precedence to music over his struggle to save money for his family back home.

By Preeti Kannan

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Published: Thu 11 Dec 2008, 12:20 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:13 PM

However, Asim Khan, 23, and Mohammed Farooq Mazhar, 24, belong to a league of extraordinary men with a remarkable talent for singing.

The spirited Pakistani youngsters were unanimously voted Dubai Idols, a far cry from the American television show, simply because it was meant for the labourers and judged by the labourers.

The two sang their way to victory in the annual contest, also known as the Western Union ‘Camp ka Champ’ (Champs of labour camps).

The event is a unique community welfare initiative to help labour camp residents discover their latent singing talent and also get rewarded for it.

“Initially when the auditions took place at our Dulsco camp in Al Quoz, I decided to take part just for fun. I never expected to get past the different rounds,” says a smiling Khan, who works for Dnata.

For Mazhar, music is a passion and his melodious voice is testimony to this. “Singing gives me a lot of peace. If this contest had been held in Pakistan, I may have never taken part in it. There are so many talented singers in my country, unfortunately not enough talent spotters,” he observes.

Mazhar says that the only reason why he decided to try his luck was because he assumed the contenders were from only his camp. “Initially, it seemed like a lot of fun and I was very comfortable at the thought that other participants were all from my camp. However, as we went on to the finals, I realised we were up against so many able singers. I was a little confused and not very sure if we really stood a chance,” adds the team leader of cargo operations at Dnata.

The duo, who teamed up for the finals, said that the grand finale was rather unnerving, especially since they were singing in front of an audience of over 1,500 people, mostly labourers, who had come to cheer and watch the singers. In a first-of-its-kind, the audience voted via SMS for their team, and the results were declared immediately on real time.

“Just the night before the finals, our entire camp got together to sing over 150 songs to help boost our confidence,” said the duo from Lahore, who love Pakistani music and also the fast Bollywood numbers.

Besides being thrilled by the home theatres, DVD players and sizeable amounts of cash they won, the two believe such initiatives in camps can be rather heartening for labourers. “Many of us work very hard for our livelihood. We wake up as early as four and go to bed around midnight. We are also very far from our families and miss home very much. Such events help us forget our sadness and uplift our spirits,” says Mazhar.


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