Friday, December 19, 2003

Greatest Arab

Would you pick bin Laden or Saddam as the "greatest Arab" of all time?

Al Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden, and ousted Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, have been nominated for the title of the 'Greatest Arab' of all time in a Middle Eastern variant of the BBC's Great Britons series.

An Arabic television channel began accepting nominations last week, after buying the format for the popular programme from the BBC. Thousands have already logged on to the website for the series or sent text messages to vote for their preferred candidate.

According to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein have already received votes.

Other nominations include Saladin, famous for having recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders; Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader; King Abdul Aziz al Saud, the creator of modern Saudi Arabia; and Omar Sharif.

The late King Hussein of Jordan; Naguib Mahfouz, the Egyptian novelist; and Anwar Sadat, the former Egyptian president have also been nominated.


Producers at MBC, which claims to have an estimated 130 million Arab viewers worldwide, said there was no intention to exclude controversial figures, but admitted that it might prove embarrassing if bin Laden or Saddam gained a large number of votes.

Ramzi Rassi, the executive producer of the programme, said: "Our main incentive is to allow all the Arab people to express their views. If controversial figures prove very popular, they will be considered by the steering committee, which may decide to disqualify them. The mainstream opinion will rule," he added.


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