The Algerian Rai artist Khaled is the latest internationally acclaimed performer to join the line-up for the Womad music festival in Abu Dhabi next month. Khaled, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose hits include the songs Didi and Aicha, will play on the Corniche on Thursday, April 23, the first day of the three-day festival. Khaled, who is 49, is regarded as the leading exponent of Rai, which combines elements of pop and traditional Bedouin music. He is known for his socially progressive lyrics and has received numerous awards for spreading the message of peace through his music. The addition of Khaled to the line-up was announced today by the organisers of the Womad festival. Womad stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance, and the festival has been held in 27 countries since it was launched in 1982 by Peter Gabriel of the UK group Genesis. In addition to Khaled, the Dhol Foundation, a British-Indian group of Punjabi drummers who play bhangra music, the Armenian composer Djivan Gasparyan, the Iranian ensemble The Kamkars and the Chinese folk singer Sa Ding Ding have also been signed to perform at the festival. Previously announced performers include Youssou N'Dour, the Senegalese Grammy award-winner, and the Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group, a Pakistani ensemble. "We have taken Womad to many places in the world, but this will be our first in the Middle East - a part of the world whose strong and rich culture has been one of our inspirations," said Gabriel. "We are excited to be bringing our festival to all of the different peoples who make up modern Abu Dhabi." Admission to the festival will be free, and organisers say the stages on the Corniche will have a capacity of 50,000. In addition to the Abu Dhabi shows on April 23, 24 and 25, there will be a single performance at the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain on April 24. email@example.com
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