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Abu Dhabi Idol

There seem to be a lot of "American Idol" fans around this office (and, um, country), so I thought I'd share this Guardian article about the Abu Dhabi version of the show, with an audience of 17 million across the Arab world voting by text message. Turns out theirs is just a tad ... classier:

Instead of the familiar mix of R&B ballads and selections from the Broadway songbook, contestants from drawn from all the Arab nations recite their own poetry, composed in a traditional Bedouin style called Nabati that dates back to the fourth century. Even the judges are different: respected academics and poets who weigh the contestants' use of metre and imagery with unfeigned sincerity, and none of the personalised slurs or gushing pronouncements of star quality one expects from Simon Cowell and his cohorts.

But can they do Billy Joel covers? I think not.

--Britt Peterson