ABU DHABI // The capital played host to the UAE's first dance music festival yesterday on Al Maya island, attracting 2,000 partygoers and some of the world's finest DJs. Revellers took a bus journey from Marina Mall and a 40-minute boat trip to Al Maya Island hotel, the venue for the 16-hour event, which was due to finish at 7am this morning.
They partied to breakbeat, house, techno and trance music as DJs from around the world played sets around the hotel's 1,000-person capacity pool. One of the DJs, Nic Fanciulli, who is based in London, flew out to the UAE yesterday morning and headed back to Britain last night after playing his one-hour set. "It is always a risk playing the first festival in any environment, but I think the venue is unbelievable," he said. "If they carry on and put the same amount of effort into it every year it is just going to build and build."
Meat Katie, also known as Mark Pember, usually plays in Asia but came to Abu Dhabi to take part in the marathon. "I've been to Dubai a few times and I enjoyed that. I got asked to come here and I will try anything once," he said, adding that he was attracted by the variety of music on offer. "Good music is good to get people together. The line-up is pretty broad, from deep house to trance. It would be boring with the same music all night."
David Newsum, a British DJ based in Dubai for four years, said he warmly welcomed the chance to attend such an event in the Middle East. "It is a complete surprise it's not in Dubai," he said. "But I know that Abu Dhabi is coming along, dance music-wise." He added that because Al Maya was an "island in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the sea" there would be no complaints about the noise. The crowd soaked up the atmosphere as the bass-pumping music rocked the island and watched with delight when the Abu Dhabi skyline faded from view as the sun set.
Sami Farah, an expatriate from Lebanon, said: "Dubai has been proving itself in the nightlife stakes, so it's about time Abu Dhabi caught up." Daniel Ryan, 23, an Irish expatriate now living in Dubai, said the night had saved him an air fare to London. "I've been here for 10 years and I fly to Britain every three months to hear this kind of music. Instead of a seven-hour flight, I can take an hour's drive and a boat trip."
Anna Rudzka, a Briton who left Abu Dhabi eight years ago, but has just returned looking for work, said she was pleased to see the capital hosting this kind of festival. "When I lived here we didn't get out, so this is my first time and I am really, really excited," she said. "The Emirates have developed so much in the past few years." @Email:email@example.com