AL AIN // As the city's portion of the Womad festival came to a close last night, some in the crowd seemed to stand out as much as the entertainers on stage. Acts at this year's World of Music, Arts and Dance festival included Al Ayala, an Emirati traditional dance group; Trio Joubran, made up of three Palestinian oud-playing brothers; Faiz Ali Faiz from Pakistan, who played Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis of India and Pakistan; and Tinariwen, a troupe of Touareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali.
For Taras Ogilko, a 32-year-old Russian contractor, making the trip to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi was a must. Dressed in a purple Touareg outfit, complete with ornamentation, he was easy to find. "For me to watch Tinariwen perform live has long been a dream for me since living in Libya and since earning my degree in African and Oriental studies," said Mr Ogilko, who speaks Arabic fluently. Haniyfa Scott, 57, a Canadian teacher, often comes to Al Jahili Fort to attend cultural events. Last night she was there to to watch the Gubi Family of Namibia and the Drummers of Burundi. Accompanying her was fellow teacher Erica Rabsatt, 33, from the US.
"I enjoyed the multicultural atmosphere," Ms Rabsatt said. "Look around. There are people of just about every nationality here watching." Sadly for Ms Scott, the Gubi Family did not perform. Organisers said the group had stayed in Abu Dhabi at the Womad workshops aimed at introducing children to international music. Some visitors said they were disappointed that the workshops were not held in Al Ain as well.
"Al Ain is just as important as Abu Dhabi, but when it comes to culture, there is more here in Al Ain," said Josie Allison, 15. "I am a bit disappointed, but it's been good. "Next year we want the entire package Abu Dhabi got." The festival concludes tonight in the capital, Womad's third night on the island. Womad put on two nights of shows in Al Ain, Thursday and last night. Damien Marley, son of reggae superstar Bob Marley, is expected to perform tonight on the Corniche.