With so much focus on perennially popular artists such as Madonna, Elton John, Beyonce and Usher performing on the UAE's stages, we knew it was high time we turned our attention to the diverse range of artists we already have in this country.
Here, we present our top 10 performers to watch, whether in rock, hip-hop, jazz, instrumental and Khaleeji pop and what they are working on. These 10 artists represent a taster of the myriad UAE-based talents doing big things.
As one of the few artists who prefers to rap in her native Arabic language, Malikah was first exposed to hip-hop while growing up in Beirut, listening to the late artists Notorious B.I.G and 2Pac, with her older brothers. Today, the Dubai-based 26-year-old is currently finalising her first solo album, The Coronation, with Snoop Doggy Dogg's producer FredWreck. Snoop will also be featured on the album. "The album reflects the pride of being an Arab woman. I talk about my experience with a mix of laid back and hard-core songs that show my capabilities," she says.
Ruwaida Al Mahrooqi
With five albums already under her belt, Ruwaida Al Mahrooqi is getting ready to go back into the studio. The Abu Dhabi native is working on new tracks for singles, and will be shooting a video for her hit Watheq Men Nafsak. The songs and video will be released after Ramadan.
"I love music, and singing is my passion. My music is Khaleeji pop - very funky, fresh and young. Some songs are a mix of Arabic with another beat," she says. The UAE, she adds, is a hub for music with its many studios, composers, lyricists and variety of shows and concerts.
Melisa Le Rue:
For the past 10 years, the Dubai-based Melisa Le Rue has been honing her talent. This summer, the 26-year-old British/Filipino will be releasing her first eponymous EP worldwide through iTunes and Amazon, and will showcase her ability to fuse soul, jazz, urban, live and electronic. "The main single Unite is a special song about how we have the same fears and struggles. Instead of our differences, I focus on our similarities," she says. The track also features the Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa, who have also performed with Bono.
Le Rue is also working on her first album.
Formed in 2006, the UAE-based hip-hop group The Recipe have continued to evolve and reinvent themselves, and have gained solid experience by supporting acts such as Snoop Doggy Dogg, 50 Cent, Akon and De La Soul. For the past year, The Recipe have been working on their first album, which is set to be completed by October. "For the past four years, we have been working hard performing and researching what people expect from The Recipe," said group member Swerte, who grew up in Indonesia and Switzerland. "We are trying to represent Dubai through the album. Everything from the art work to music video direction - it's all a local production."
Omar's love of the keyboard began during childhood. "I feel lost without my piano," said the 26-year-old South African, Dubai-based classical fusion pianist. "It's a large part of my life. Even when I was at school while going through difficult situations, the piano was my release." Omar's debut chill out album Sand Star was released last January and contains eight tracks of diverse musical influences. Her next album is set to be "more edgy", she says, and a possible tour is also in the works. Omar has also released online a charity single called New Hope, and 60 per cent of the proceeds will go towards the Palestine Children's Relief Fund. You can see Omar every Wednesday to Monday at Al Fayrooz Lounge, Al Qasr Hotel, Dubai from 4pm -9pm.
This UAE-based rock group have supported international acts such as Nickleback, and were invited to play at the ChillOut Festival, Dubai earlier this year. Nikotin are in the final stages of production for their first album Panodrama - which is set for release later this year - while simultaneously working on their second. "It was an enlightening experience," says the 31-year-old singer Neil D'Cruz of their first album. "It features a wide spectrum of emotion. Each song offers a story that pertains to our lives." A music video is also being planned.
After performing at the recent Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Dubai-based Sach Holden knows how to work the crowd with his "dirty love songs". For the past six years, he has been working on his first album, which will be ready by the end of the year.
"It is a full acoustic album with a focus on the lyrics. It is autobiographical and like all musicians, I want it to be perfect because it's personal," says the 28-year-old Indian national. He has also prepared 12 new songs he hopes to play if chosen to perform at the forthcoming Fridge Concert Series. He is also planning to attend a music camp with 30 international artists in Chennai, India.
Having released his first EP last year, the 30-year-old Emirati soul singer/songwriter is currently working on his first solo album. It is set for release by the end of this year and will be produced by Yasser Anderson.
Al-Abri has been working on the album since 2010 and intends for it to feature various musical styles. "I will always work with soul influences but with the album I wanted to experiment, so I will include African sounds, and styles similar to those of Bjork and Radiohead to take the music to another level," he says.
You can see him at JamBase in Souk Madinat Jumeirah, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 9pm with the band Bull Funk Zoo.
His style caught the ear of the award-winning French rapper Abd al Malik, and they performed together in Dubai last March. Now, the 22-year-old Emirati rapper Hussain "Sain" Hashim is working on two big tracks and music videos that are still under wraps. The Miami-born rap artist is also putting together a mix-tape as well as working on a further collaboration with Abd Al Malik.
"I'm looking at mixing all kinds of genres like rock, so I'm talking to a guitarist from Dubai and other international artists too," says Sain. "I'm also inviting other artists to approach me with new ideas for collaboration."
The former UAE-resident Benedetta Paravia "Princess Bee", is currently recording an English/Arabic song called Emirates with the Arabic lyrics taken from a poem entitled The Gentle Eastern Breeze by HH Sheikh Zayed. The 29-year-old Italian songstress regularly visits the UAE and is planning a performance once the song and music video have been released.
"Emirates is a song I have written in tribute to the UAE, a country that I dearly love and have spent a lot of time in," she says. "Every famous city should have the privilege of being celebrated with its own icon of a song."
Since the project was announced, Princess Bee has received offers from Arabic singers such as Khuloud Abounetaifah, a Kuwaiti, for joint projects.