Last updated: 26 april, 2010 - 11:53 GMT

The sensation at Saudi Arabia's Pop Idol for poets

Hissa Hilal (left) and other poets on TV show Million's Poet

To play this content JavaScript must be turned on and the latest Flash player installed.

Play in either Real OR Windows Media players

The Saudi Arabian poet Hissa Hilal caused a sensation in the Arab world when she appeared on the TV talent show Million's Poet.

The format is a kind of Pop Idol for poets.

Dressed in a full burqa, with only her eyes showing, Hissa performed poetry that attacked religious extremism. She also denounced conservative clerics for their stance on women's rights, freedom of the press and their message on terror.

Hissa Hila on TV show Million's Poet

Hissa Hilal in full burqa on TV show 'Million's Poet'

Despite receiving death threats from some viewers, Hissa was praised by the all-male panel of judges.

She went on to win a place in the final, where she gained the highest marks from the judges but was reduced to third place after a viewers' vote. Even so, she took home prize money of more than $700,000.

Matthew Bannister spoke to Hissa on the line from Riyadh about the competition.

Hissa Hilal on Saudi Arabia's TV talent contest Million's Poet

Hissa Hilal on Saudi Arabia's TV talent contest Million's Poet

More from Outlook


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.