Popular Emirati singer, Ahlam, also a judge on the Arab Idol singing show, made the following comments in reference to a contestant's Kurdish identity:
I'm against when they always say we support Morocco, we support Iraq, we support Syria, we support the Khaleej ... But today, really, I want to send a message of love to Iraq ... I'm against when Parwas's [contestant name] is written saying she is from Kurdistan, because Kurdistan is part of Iraq and from today, I want you [pointing at Parwas] name to be Parwas from Iraq and not from Kurdistan.
The show itself showcases the musical talents of people from across the region. Whether from Morocco or Iraq, all singers competing in the show sing in Arabic--meaning, the show is supposed to be a pan-Arabic show not a "pan-Arab" show. However, clearly from the statement of Ahlam, we see how identities and language are examined through media and entertainment industries in the region.
A Weapon of Racial Exclusion
Arab Idol reflects multiple layers of the interconnectivity of pop culture and politics. The show is broadcasted on the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), a company that was initially founded in London and whose headquarters later moved to Dubai. Its owner is Waleed bin Ibrahim, a member of the Saudi royal family through the marriage between his sister and the late King Fahd. Considering the extent to which "private sector" and authoritarian regimes operate so closely, especially as they are often sustainers of one another through a close marriage of patronage, political loyalty, and nepotism, MBC can hardly be called a private network.