"The Arabian Music Awards ceremony will be a turning point in the history of Arabic music as the best, most famous and most popular stars will be in Dubai," Zaid Batal, executive producer of the awards, told reporters on Monday. 

He said the nominees had been chosen by the executive committee of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which launched in February the Dubai-based Arabian Music Academy to promote Arabic music and protect recording copyright. 

The public will then have a chance to vote on the nominations through the internet and mobile text messages from 15 April,  said Batal. 

He said winners would be announced at a ceremony one month later broadcast exclusively on the Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). 

Four categories

Nominations have been divided into four categories: Gulf-style, Levantine, Egyptian and North African. 

"The Arabian Music Awards ceremony will be a turning point in
the history of Arabic music as the best, most famous and most popular stars will be in Dubai"

Zaid Batal,
executive producer of the awards

Prominent among nominees from the Levant are Lebanese pop divas such as Elissa and Nancy Ajram, who has stirred controversy in many Arab countries for her provocative and revealing performances. 

Among the male nominees is Iraq's leading popular singer Kadhim al-Sahir. In the North African male category, Algeria's Chab Mami, famed in the West for his Desert Rose duet with Sting, was nominated twice. 

Tunisian pop star Zikra, who was killed by her jealous Egyptian husband in November, was nominated for best North African album. 

Among those nominated for Best Arabic Modern Act are
provocative Lebanese star Haifa Wahbi for her song Qalby Nar (My Heart is on Fire). 

US stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are among those nominated in the Western song categories.