x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Rappers, poets, oud players join forces to celebrate National Day

Pre-National Day event to feature oud players, Emirati rap and a poetry debate.

The Abu Dhabi-based hip-hop group D.Storm rehearse for Artscape Emirati. Andrew Henderson / The National
The Abu Dhabi-based hip-hop group D.Storm rehearse for Artscape Emirati. Andrew Henderson / The National

Emirati rappers, local poets, traditional oud players and filmmakers are joining forces for a special performance to mark the UAE's 40th National Day.

Artscape Emirati, tonight at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island from 6pm, is part of the second edition of Emirati Expressions, organised by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). Entrance is free.

As one of many in a series of special events, Artscape Emirati is set to be an evening filled with traditional and contemporary music, dance and workshops complementing arranged exhibitions.

The evening will include a mix of Emirati poetry and a debate between two poets, or mradeed, featuring Hamed Al Hajri and Jaber Bin Shannar Al Ahbabi and inspired by the exhibition's photographs.

There will also be a live performance by musicians from Bait Al Oud school and a sand-art demonstration by the artist Shaiyma Al Mughairy.

Members of the Abu Dhabi-based hip-hop and R&B rappers D.Storm, who are also in the line-up, say they have been waiting a long time for an opportunity such as this.

"We are so proud to be chosen to represent Emirati rappers," said Mohamed Al Mawardi (aka TKO) one of the founders of D.Storm. "We have a special song that represents the past and the future. We talk about life while showing the world that our religion is a peaceful one. We try to also educate the younger generation and through music we spread a message that hip-hop is not a violent genre."

Al Mawardi, who is 29, formed the group with his childhood friend Muneer Al Hajri in 2004. In 2009, the group released a song for the soundtrack of MBC's Beit el Hip Hop show and mastered by Nasser Frederic, who also worked with Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre.

Tairone Bastien, the public programmes manager for TDIC's Cultural Department, says the event's strength promised to be its cross mix of talents.

"It's exciting because this is a real mixture of performers from different disciplines from poetry to dance, incorporating traditional with contemporary," says Bastien. "We focused on the theme of Emirati Expressions and wanted to work with UAE-based talents at the top of their game."

Members of Beit Al Oud school will be playing the oldest traditional musical instrument of the region. The musicians include two Emiratis, one Palestinian and one Iraqi, performing for the first time together in the UAE, according to Ahmed Hameed - one of the members.

"We hope the audience will love the performance. This is a great opportunity to perform alongside such a diverse line-up from all ages and interests, living out their dream," says Hameed.

Beit Al Oud was established in 2008 in Abu Dhabi, having first been introduced by the musician Nasir Shamma in 1997. Today, hundreds of students from all over the world currently study at Beit al Oud, learning the musical fields of the three main Oriental musical schools: the Egyptian, Iraqi and Turkish.

The previous edition of Artscape Emirati drew more than 1,000 people and this year, TDIC expect to reach a larger crowd.

"It's going to be a fun evening because you don't often get to experience Beit Al Oud and a great hip-hop band like D.Storm at the same time," says Bastien. "Now is a good time to be working in arts in the UAE because opportunities are increasing and we are seeing a bubbling-up of performers."

Also being shown at the event is a short film made for Emirati Expressions that examines the background and work of the participating artists. The exhibition is a reflection of the "movement of thoughts" with a focus on Emirati cultural heritage and is translated through photographs by Emirati artists and visiting photographers.

Members of the public are also invited to take photo portraits of themselves in the huge photo booth at Manarat Al Saadiyat, printouts of which can then be pasted on designated billboards. The photo booth will remain until the closing of the exhibition on January 28.

The popular Yola band and Al Mazyood Al Harbiyah will perform Al Harbiyah, a traditional performance of music, dance and poetry that expresses victory, pride and courage.

A slide show of historical and modern images of daily UAE life will also be presented from the image archives of the National Centre for Documentation and Research, the Emirates News Agency WAM and Abu Dhabi Media - which owns and publishes The National.

Workshops are from 3-9pm and performances begin at 6pm. For more information call 02 657 5800 or www.artsabudhabi.ae/en