Lebanese celebrated the local dance troupe Mayyas on Thursday after it won the “America’s Got Talent” TV contest, stoking joy and pride in a country battered by years of political and economic turmoil. Many fans, across age groups and religious lines in the crisis-tested country and its large diaspora, tearfully cheered the all-women group for what judges and viewers hailed as a hypnotic and mesmerizing performance. “Congratulations Mayyas, proud, proud, proud,” tweeted Lebanese pop star Elissa, while caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati gushed that “Lebanese creativity shines” in the performance.
A Twitter user called Wael summed up the mood about the group that beat all the odds: “They come from a country ravaged by crisis and, despite the difficulties, they managed to be the best. Lebanese all around the world are proud of you.” The troupe led by choreographer Nadim Cherfan scooped a $1 million prize and the chance to headline a Las Vegas show for their extravagant performance featuring belly dancing, feather fans and white orbs of light.
“You gave us a glimpse of hope and showed the world what Lebanese women are capable of,” tweeted another fan, DivaMaj, saluting the group that in 2019 won the Arabs Got Talent contest. Even the military joined in, declaring on Twitter, somewhat more stiffly, that “the army command congratulates the Mayyas group, its trainers and members, on winning America’s Got Talent”.
The Mayyas’ win of the season finale brought rare respite and a moment of unity to the small country reeling from almost three years of deep economic hardship and political stalemate. Amid Lebanon’s worst-ever economic crisis, the national currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value on the black market since 2019 while poverty and unemployment have soared. Beirut remains scarred by the huge portside blast of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate in 2020, which killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and decimated vast areas of the capital. In a reflection of the deep popular discontent, several people who have recently held up banks, using real or toy guns, to demand their frozen savings have been cheered as folk heros by bystanders and on social media. — AFP