x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai's Intensity concert a celebration of diversity

The Intensity 2012 concert in Dubai will bring together pop stars from India and Pakistan who will showcase tunes ranging in genre from Bollywood to classic rock.

Shafqat Ali is one of the artists performing at this weekend's Intensity concert. Courtesy Ccyclops Communications
Shafqat Ali is one of the artists performing at this weekend's Intensity concert. Courtesy Ccyclops Communications

The Intensity 2012 concert in Dubai this weekend brings together three pop heavyweights from Pakistan and India, illustrating that the nations' musical ties are stronger than their political ones.

The show finds the Indian pop-star Mika, responsible for Bollywood hits including Pongy (Agent Vinod) and To Mere Hero (Desi Boys), teaming up with Pakistan's rock duo Strings and the singer Shafqat Ali for a triple bill touching on genres ranging from Bollywood and rock to world and spiritual. Shafqat Ali, who is looking forward to his Dubai return, says the city's multicultural mix is refreshing.

"What makes concerts over there good is that it is a mixed gathering. When you are playing in India, it's normally all Indians and it is the same when you are in Pakistan. In Dubai you will have Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi and people from the Middle East standing and singing together, that is really a wonderful thing."

Ali's catalogue is as diverse as the expected audience. Born in Lahore in 1972 to the legendary classical Pakistani musician Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, he began learning how to play classical music from the age of four.

However, it was his poppy compositions that initially turned heads and, in 2006, the Bollywood hit-maker Shankar Mahadevan tracked Ali down after listening to him on his car radio.

The resulting collaboration Mitwa, from the Shah Rukh Khan romantic drama Kahbi Alvida Naa Kehna, topped the Indian charts and established Ali as one of Bollywood's leading singers.

This year, Ali was nominated for a Filmfare Award for Dildaara, taken from the soundtrack to last year's blockbuster Ra.One.

Ali took a left turn from both film tunes and his classical roots when he came out with 2008's Taaber and 2010's Kyun Dooriyan.

Taaber revealed a deep spirituality with meditative lyrics channelling Islam's mystical Sufi teachings; a musical aspect which Ali was eager to explore.

"I wanted to make a Sufi album, but not in the way people think it normally is, which is that it is just a guitar and tabla," he explains.

"It really is about the lyrics and its links between God and the human."

Intensity 2012 featuring Mika, Strings and Shafqat Ali is on Friday at Sheikh Rashid Hall in the Dubai World Trade Centre from 7.30pm. Tickets start from Dh100 and are available online from www.timeouttickets.com.