ABU DHABI AND AL AIN // Thousands flocked to the Corniche in Abu Dhabi last night for the capital's World of Music, Arts and Dance festival, which kicked off with a 10-minute fireworks display and an energetic performance by the Drummers of Burundi.
The three-day festival will end on Saturday with a show by the reggae star Damien Marley. Among the crowd were some travellers stranded in the capital because of the recent air travel disruption across Europe. "We are due to now go back this Sunday, so this is a nice way to spend our last few days here," said Jack Wall, 13, from the UK. His grandfather, Norman Bell, has worked as a construction manager in the capital for three years. "I want to see Damien Marley. I wasn't lucky enough to see his father ever perform," Mr Bell said.
Womad was the first music festival that Khadija al Kaabi and Shamma al Damakir, 20-year-old Emirati design students at Al Ain Women's College, have attended. Ms al Kaabi said around 25 women from the college came by bus. Some residents of the capital preferred to begin their Womad experience in Al Ain, where acts played last night and continue tonight at Al Jahili Fort.
Pascal Cortes, 38, a French geologist, said: "I came from Abu Dhabi and will stay in Al Ain for the two nights of Womad, and then go to Abu Dhabi for the third night of performances there. That way, I can experience it all." Organisers of the event, which is in its second year in Al Ain, faced some last-minute difficulties, including a lack of parking and the food outlet being shut down by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi.