Azerbaijan to host global singing contest

Baku: Azerbaijan, the Eurasian nation, will host an international singing contest in May, that is expected to attract singers from 42 countries and more than 20,000 spectators from around the world.

The Eurovision-2012 Song Contest will be held May 22-26, Xinhua reported.

This will be the first time the country is hosting such an event.

Two semi-finals of the 57th annual contest will be held May 22-24 and the final May 26.

The contest is held among member countries of the European Broadcasting Union. Each member country submits one song to be performed on live television. The winning country hosts the next contest.

At the 2011 Eurovision song contest held in Germany, Azerbaijani duo Eldar and Nigar`s song "Running Scared" won the top prize and won their country the chance to host this year`s contest.

Azerbaijani authorities have also announced a simplified visa procedure for the event. Accredited delegates, journalists and fans can obtain entry visa upon arrival at the Baku International Airport.

The government has spent $7.6 million in the construction of the Baku Crystal Hall, the venue for the contest.

Azerbaijanis believe the contest will be a great opportunity for the country to be recognised by the world.

"Though the Azerbaijani government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for the Eurovision contest, it is worthwhile, as it can improve Azerbaijan`s international image," 23-year-old Rashad Ali told Xinhua.