When he first saw Arab Idol he didn’t imagine that he would one day sing on that same stage. For Mohammad Assaf, 24, the 2013 Arab Idol winner, winning did not come easily. Born in Libya in 1989, Assaf moved back to Gaza in 1994 to live in the Khan Younis Refugee Camp. Life in the camp is not easy because of overcrowding, poor infrastructure and water and electricity shortages.
Growing up Assaf always loved music. In fact, he was working as a wedding singer when he decided to compete in the casting of Arab Idol in Egypt. It took him two days to cross over from Gaza to Egypt because of complications at the border. Borders in Gaza are so difficult for all Gaza people, but the Rafah crossing has been especially problematic because of political tensions between Egypt and Gaza.
But Assaf was determined to audition and, against all odds, he won the entire contest. Right before winning his title, Assaf was invited to be a good will ambassador for UNRWA, the Untied Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.