A music festival in the metro? Yes, Dubai did it for the first time in the Middle East, according to its organizers, with free performances from local and international musicians.
Last week, five metro stations (DMCC, Union, Burjuman, Mall of the Emirates and Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall) hosted 25 musicians during a seven-day festival organized by Brand Dubai, the creative arm of Dubai Media Office, in cooperation with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The festival aimed to bring together commuters over music throughout their busy schedules. The artists’ genres ranged from traditional to classic instrumentalists, street performers and fusion musicians.
“This is something very new to Dubai and the region,” Medhat Mamdouh, an Egyptian participant who was a semi-finalist on MBC’s ‘Arabs Got Talent’ in 2015, told the MBRSC Post. “Every station and every audience and response were special. The most interesting part was that I got to meet unique artists from around the world, using instruments the region hasn’t explored before and I’ve never seen used before,” said the musician who combines beatboxing and the recorder.
“I collaborated with five of the musicians featured. We all have our different tastes and skills, however we were able to put on interesting 30-minute shows together,” he added.
The festival featured several Arab artists from Jordan, the U.A.E., Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia; all of whom practice music as a professional career or as a hobby, such as Saudi melodica player Taher Albahrani and 16-year-old Lebanese Talia Lahoud. International artists from Bulgaria, India, Indonesia and Italy participated in the event as well. Some of them used recycled objects as instruments while some used the traditional instruments to perform their tunes.
“I am surprised at how many people took the time from their busy schedules and chose to stop and listen to us,” said Abu Dhabi-based Indonesian guitar player Adam Kadabra. Kadabra pursues a technique called ‘Lap Tapping’ that creates melodies while placing the guitar on his lap. He started to use the technique after an accident that fractured one of his fingers, and continued to use it even after it healed.
During peak hours, commuters took a break and gathered around the musicians. “It was really encouraging to see large numbers of people thronging to the musical performances at Dubai’s metro stations,” City Branding Manager for Brand Dubai Shaima Al Suwaidi told The National. “Apart from metro commuters, there were music lovers who came to the venues just to attend the performances,” she said.