(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Sixty-three of the 79 participants competing in the 16th session of the Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) have sat for final tests so far.
According to a senior official, seven more will take the stage today. They are from Central Africa, Kazakhstan, Yemen, Canada, Libya, Cote d'Ivoire, and Sierra Leone.
Ibrahim Bu Melha, Chairman of the award Organising Committee, told Khaleej Times that five more participants have been disqualified, and hence the number of the memorisers who have failed to clear initial tests has risen to nine.
"The nine disqualified competitors, who showed poor performance in terms of memorisation and recitation in qualifying tests which ended on July 30, are from Kenya, China, Kosovo, Brunei, Suriname, Zambia, Singapore, Mozambique and New Zealand.
"Three other contestants from Australia, Bulgaria and France have apologised some days before the launch of the award on Ramadan 1 for not being ready though they have already applied for and agreed on participation."
Meanwhile, the award, for the first time ever, has given the floor to three participants from the Abrar Masr Association for Mentally Disturbed People, Egypt, who have memorised the Quran in full despite their impairment.
"The award this year will also see the youngest ever participant today. Nine-year-old Malik Kharievich Khizhin is from Kazakhstan," said Ahmed Sager Al Suwaidi, head of the Competitions Unit of the award.
Meanwhile, a three-member committee is currently testing the voices of all 79 final contestants in the morning shift. "Only five of the top ten memorisers whose voices are the most tuneful will win the award," he said.
The 11-category award, aimed to serve the Holy Quran and promote the general standard of the Quranic performance, is annually held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.