ABU DHABI // It is shaping up to be one of the largest, most accessible concerts the nation has ever seen: Alicia Keys opening for George Michael in front of up to 30,000 fans at Zayed Sports City stadium to celebrate National Day. The singer from the US was added to the Dec 1 bill yesterday - marking the first time she and her fellow Grammy winner from the UK will perform on the same stage. On Saturday, organisers will make 10,000 low-priced tickets available at Dh190 (US$52) each. The two artists should prove a major draw. Michael, who has sold more than 100 million records, has said it will be his farewell show. Keys, who has sold more than 30m records, will appear in Abu Dhabi as part of a two-month tour of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It is the first concert to be staged at the stadium, better known for hosting football and hockey tournaments. Due to the stadium's size, concert organisers Flash will be working closely with police. The event will begin with a local act that has yet to be announced, before moving into Keys' performance. Michael, due on stage after 11pm, will sing past midnight in a show to be punctuated by celebratory fireworks. Key's 2001 debut album, Songs In A Minor, contained the hit Fallin', which sold more than 10m copies worldwide when released as a single, and garnered five Grammy Awards, including best new artist and best R&B album.
Her follow up, 2004's The Diary of Alicia Keys, won four Grammy Awards. While the show will be her first performance here, Keys, 27, is no stranger to the region. The singer has spoken of making a "personal pilgrimage" to Egypt's Valley of the Kings for musical inspiration. She was ordered to postpone two tour dates in the UK on the first leg of this year's tour after contracting laryngitis, but went on to sell out some of its biggest venues including the Manchester Arena.
Keys teamed up with the White Stripes' Jack White to record the first James Bond film theme song by a duet, Another Way To Die, for the latest instalment in the series, Quantum Of Solace, starring Daniel Craig. The evening is said to be fans' last chance to see Michael in concert. The singer, who has faced a series of embarrassing incidents and several arrests, has pegged the Abu Dhabi show as the final live concert of his 25-year music career, and the finale of his 25 Live tour.
Michael and Keys follow Justin Timberlake, Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi and Christina Aguilera in playing in the capital. Aguilera's show last week was the biggest-budget music production so far in the UAE. Tickets to see Keys and Michael go on sale Saturday at www.boxofficeme.com They will be available next Tuesday from Virgin Megastores, Hallmark, Spinneys, Cellucom. For more information, visit www.georgeandalicia.ae, which will be live on Saturday.