ABU DHABI // This winter's concert in the capital by one of Lebanon's best-known singers will be rather exclusive - it is a women-only event. Organisers say the performance by Najwa Karam at the Fairmont Hotel is the first of its kind here. The aim, they say, is to provide an atmosphere for more conservative women to enjoy a night out.
"It will be like any classy gala dinner concert, with a dance floor, screens, a fancy theme but no alcohol," said Nagat al Zuheiri, the owner and manager of the Geneva-based company Middle East VIP, which is organising the event. "Our target audience is sophisticated Arab ladies, who want to have a good time, so we are adjusting the event to their lifestyle." For Shamma Ali, a 25-year-old Emirati human resources supervisor, the concert will bring a lifelong dream to fruition.
"I'm a close friend of Najwa Karam, and I've always dreamt of attending one of her concerts," Ms Ali said. "However, it was never possible, because, in our culture, girls don't go to mixed parties where there is dancing and alcohol. "I'm also encouraged to go because I've attended several events for the organising company in Geneva, and I really enjoyed them." According to Hessa bin Salem, 22, an Emirati who is an international promotion executive at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), this could lead to more ladies-only concerts in the UAE. "I think this event will not only attract women from the UAE, but also from other GCC and Arab countries," she said.
"Working at ADTA, I always get free tickets to concerts but I never go, first of all because I'm not allowed to go to mixed parties late in the evening, and, for me personally, what's the point of going to a concert if I'll be wearing my abaya and shayla and I won't be able to dance? "Moreover, I feel as if I'm dishonouring my national identity being in such places, especially if there is alcohol served."
Although Mai Mattar, a 21-year-old Lebanese marketing graduate, has attended a dozen concerts before. She said she could not wait to attend this gala. "It is something new and unique, and when it's ladies only we will feel more comfortable," she said. "It is also an opportunity to wear fancy dresses, since concerts are usually casual events." The event will be held at 8pm on December 18 at the Fairmont Bab al Bahr's ballroom. Five hundred tickets, priced from Dh400 (US$108) to Dh900, will go on sale on September 20.