Dubai: Competition at the 21st Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) is heating up as the annual programme reaches the half-way mark.
Several contestants, including Esmail Omar from Somalia, Magomedov Gadzhimurad from Russia and Naadih Abdul Hameed from Maldives, have made their presence felt over the last two nights.
Omar, who has been among the top 10 winners at several international competitions, on Wednesday produced a flawless performance, save for one minor hiccup.
Coming from a family of Huffaz (Quran memorisers) hailing from the city of Hargeisa in northern Somalia, Omar feels he has once again done well enough to be among the top 10.
“By the grace of Allah, I think I have done well, save for one minor error. This is the toughest competition I have been to so far and there are a lot of good contestants yet to perform. Hopefully, I have done enough to be among the top 10,” said Omar, who is the seventh of eight siblings, all of whom have memorised the Quran.
The 21-year-old credits his mother, who has also memorised the Quran, for his success.
“My mother has been a real pillar of support for all of us brothers and sisters. It is because of her efforts that I am here today, competing against the best in the world,” said Omar, who is a supervisor at Al Firdous Holy Quran Centre in Hargeisa.
He wants to pursue a doctorate in Quranic studies and is awaiting a response to his application from the Islamic University of Madina.
Among the other top performers was 23-year-old Russian Magomedov Gadzhimurad.
An Islamic teacher in Dagestan, Gadzhimurad has performed at several competitions with some success, but believes DIHQA is the best of all.
“This is a top quality competition with great arrangments and best competitors. This is a great service to the Quran and I pray that Allah blesses the organisers,” said Gadzhimurad, who is in Dubai for the first time.
Another young contestant who stood out with his soothing voice was Naadih Abdul Hameed of the Maldives.
The 13-year-old grade eight student mesmerised the audience with this soulful rendition, but committed a few minor errors that could harm his chances of making it among the top ten.
But he believes he still has a chance.
“I know I could have done better, but I got a bit nervous and those errors happened. Inshallah, I hope I will get a chance in the Beautiful Voice category,” said Naadih, who is taking part in only his second international competition.
Contestants from 103 countries are participating this year, half of whom have finished their turn so far. The competition ends on the 20th day of Ramadan. The award ceremony will take place at the Dubai Scientific and Cultural Association building in Al Mamzar.