Songs of the Desert
The performing arts scene in Abu Dhabi is undergoing a transformation as the country—in part to step out of Dubai’s shadow—builds itself up as the cultural gem of the United Arab Emirates.
In the new Abu Dhabi, Music festivals and events are especially popular and take place throughout the year, from one-off beach performances and electronic music raves to annual jazz and classical music festivals. The city has emerged as a home to world-class clubs and DJs like Briton Natalie Brogan, but there also remains a strong interest in preserving Arabian music and heritage with traditional sounds and instruments.
As much as modern dance music is enjoyed by the younger generation, Arabic music has maintained its popularity with the masses over the ages. Today, traditional artisans continue to hand-craft the oud—a lute-like string instrument commonly played in Middle Eastern music.
Contemporary oudists, like Naseer Shamma, are creating a new musical language by fusing their art with that of flamenco guitarists and jazz musicians, while perpetuating the role of the instrument in classical Arabic music.
Layal Watfeh is one of the emerging artists that is transforming Abu Dhabi’s performance arts scene. Having garnered several international rewards, she is a singer, composer and producer based in Dubai.
At the Emirates Palace Auditorium, there’s a fine appreciation for classical music and local culture. Whether it is traditional Arabian music or a large orchestra, Abu Dhabi Classics offers a symphony for the senses in this dynamic capital city.