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UAE continues to develop as a destination for live music

After a relatively quiet star to the year, 2012 ended up becoming another solid year on the live music front.

It went further in cementing the UAE as a destination, either to see big global acts or to attend concerts by those using the country to top off their pensions.

Don't get me wrong, I'm only jesting.

But seriously now, where else would I get the chance to see an Arabic classical musician, pop stars of the 1980s, African artists and blues musicians all in a matter of days?

The weekend in question dates back to early March in Dubai, when concerts by Omar Khairat and Duran Duran and the du World Music Festival all occurred during the same weekend.

More odd combinations continued throughout the year, with acts either sharing the same bill (Gabrielle/George Benson and Billy Ocean/The Christians) or the same evening (Kylie Minogue/Missy Elliot). There's still next year's Slash and Kanye West concert clash to look forward to.

As a music reporter, such match-ups and clashes can result in some head-scratching and frustration. However, having to make the choice signifies the lively nature of the UAE music circuit.

What this region lacks in consistent big name acts, it makes up for in sheer unpredictability. Rarely a week passes without me reading an announcement of a forthcoming concert that makes me either cringe (East 17), chuckle (Rick Astley) or become genuinely excited (Sade).

With the exception of some acts that charge relatively cheap prices, the sudden announcements usually come for the same reason that friends suddenly call up to announce an unexpected visit.

The UAE is normally squeezed in - either due to a transit stop or a break - into existing world tours.

So here is a game for you: if you want to predict which artists will be visiting us next, look at a world map. Artists coming to the UAE often take one of three different routes. The Down Under route produces a reliable supply of big name acts stopping here either on the way or returning from Australia (Sade, Nickelback, David Guetta and soon The Stone Roses).

The Spice Route is also a reliable indicator: Duran Duran, Metallica and Macy Gray stopped in the UAE before jetting off on an Asian tour.

The Transvaal Route is another emerging musical flight path, which brought The Eagles and recently Chris Brown to Dubai, on the way to and from South Africa respectively.

The evolving nature of world tours often results in last-minute announcements, which, at the very least, keeps us on our toes.

Saeed Saeed is a reporter for The National's Arts&Life

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