UAE driver wins 10 times his salary in talent show
As many as 2,000 workers had participated in the show's audition round.
A Dubai-based driver and merchandiser at an ice-cream shop is thanking his lucky stars, after winning Dh15,000 in a virtual talent hunt competition in the emirate.
Hasan Raza, 29, was announced the winner of the 'Western Union Camp Ka Champ' singing contest for blue collar workers last week, and awarded the prize money — which is 10 times his salary.
Hailing from Pakistan, Raza has been working in Dubai for the last seven years and is the sole breadwinner in his family, which comprises his mother, four brothers and two sisters back home.
“This seems like a dream to me. I had always heard of people coming to Dubai and realising their dreams, but this first-hand experience has left me speechless," he said.
"I have grown-up watching reality shows on TV and even participated in singing competitions as a young boy in Pakistan, but after moving to UAE, I knew I had to just focus on my work and earn a living."
The young man said he'd buried his passion of singing "somewhere deep down" over the last few years. "The show was a chance to once again sing and showcase my talent. Now, thanks to it, I can use the prize money to help settle my siblings.”
Embracing a new normal with Covid restrictions in place, the popular workers talent show launched their 14th season virtually in January this year. Two thousand workers from 50 camps across the UAE participated in the auditions round.
Out of these, 32 made it to the quarter finals, which concluded last month. A panel of judges comprising established singers from India shortlisted 12 singers from the lot, who progressed to the semifinals that were held last week.
The grand finale of the Bollywood-themed singing competition was also held virtually and broadcast live on the 'Camp ka Champ' Facebook page.
In a nail-biting finale amongst six contestants who made it to the finale, the other three runners-up were Shahid Iqbal, 32, a mechanic from Pakistan; Umair Malik, 27, an accommodation supervisor also from Pakistan; and Lovepreet Singh, a 26-year-old Indian electrician. The trio received cash prizes of Dh1,500 each.
Expressing his happiness at the success of the show, runner-up Lovepreet Singh told Khaleej Times: “More than the money, it is the spirit of the show in these tough times that has brought immense joy to our hearts. They made us feel like real celebrities, as we held the mic and performed in front of an even larger audience who were watching us from all around the globe, including our family members who could see us perform live online."
Lovepreet revealed that he has been participating in the show for the last three years — and bagged the runners-up prize every time. "I will work harder next time to win the first position," he said. "But I thoroughly enjoyed this journey, where they gave us workers a chance to train, learn from professional trainers, and perform on a virtual stage.”
Speaking about the popularity of the annual worker’s talent show, organiser Rupa Vinod, managing director of Right Track Advertising, said: “It was heartening to see the interest levels among the participants despite the pandemic. Over 30 per cent of the quarter finalists were online entries this time. This proves beyond doubt that the virtual platform is as popular and successful as the live execution.”
Lauding the passion and spirit of the workers, Karim El Sayed, head of GTM Retail, Western Union, Middle East & South Asia, said: “South Asians are passionate about singing and we are excited to support this competition, where they can showcase their vocal talents and express their passion. Through 'Camp Ka Champ', we hope to give the labour community in the UAE an opportunity to connect with each other, live their dreams and inspire others.”
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