Fed up with sultry music videos, the head of the Syrian artists union is stepping up his campaign against what he called "bed and bathtub" singing.
Sabah Obeid has been compiling a "blacklist" of singers who are banned from performing in Syria to "combat the moral decadence of nude singing."
Now, Obeid says he will hold three music competitions exclusively for "decadence-free" singers and serious songs with political or humanistic themes.
"Some people thought my project would fail, but after the beautiful voices I've listened to in this competition, I guarantee the emergence of new artists who will captivate listeners," Obeid said.
Obaid told AlArabiya.net that he holds no personal grudge against particular singers: "My job is to promote real art, and that is what I'm doing…The union supports me, and the law is on my side."
First to make Obeid's blacklist were Lebanese singers Elissa and Haifa Wahbi. Other names recently added to the list include Dominique Hourani, Jad Shweiri, Marwa, Maria— all Lebanese.
"Let them go to nude beaches instead and leave us alone," Obeid said, denying reports that Syria's Asala or Lebanese superstar Nancy Ajram were on the list.
Haifa has accused Obeid of seeking fame at her expense, but Obeid said he has been famous since the 1980s when he worked with renowned Syrian actor Dourid Laham in the hit TV serial Wadi al-Misk (Valley of Musk).
Obeid, whose term ends in 2014, said it is a shame for a singer not only to have a bad voice, but also to strip.
But even Obaid appears to have one exception: "Madonna has a good voice and sings meaningful lyrics. It doesn't look that offensive when she takes off her clothes," he said.