Madonna fans are kept entertained ahead of the pop star's visit by a music festival at Yas Island.
Madonna's support acts hit the stage early … two days early
ABU DHABI // A music festival on Yas Island is offering a ray of light for Madonna fans eagerly awaiting her first concerts in the Middle East.
The Cipriani Yas Music Festival, organised by the events company Flash Entertainment and Allure by Cipriani, was intended to help music lovers get into the groove over the weekend ahead of the star's shows tomorrow and on Monday.
The five-day festival, which ends on Monday with the Madonna after-party, is being held at the Yas Yacht Club's Cipriani restaurant and Allure nightclub.
"Usually Yas is very quiet," said Sebastian Clarke, the creative director of Allure. "But we decided to jump on the Madonna buzz and create this attraction for people to come."
Mr Clarke said the first day of the festival had already made the venue "much busier than usual", and he expected the weekend to be packed.
"Even though there is so much investment in this island with attractions like Ferrari World, we still need to create events like this to make it interesting for people to come," he said.
"Right now everyone around the world is talking about Yas, so we plan to let people know this is what we can do in the Middle East and show them what we're all about."
Yesterday, a 25-member group of musicians from Lebanon, known as 8e Art, took turns to play a range of music, including flamenco and jazz, during the all-day brunch at Cipriani, which cost Dh250.
"I'm very excited to see her show but it's great to also watch these famous musicians from Beirut," said the Lebanese tourist Bernard Kazour, 35, who bought golden circle tickets for Madonna.
Eddy Hourani, 27, also from Lebanon, has booked a room at a Yas Island hotel to have a "weekend full of fun".
"This is a really exciting time to be here," said Mr Hourani, who works in finance in Dubai. "It is great that the focus is not only on Madonna."
Yesterday's events culminated with a fashion show and the drum group Loud Arabia, who played with Glow Sticks.
"Normally they play with fire sticks on the drums, but because the event is indoors we decided to use Glow Sticks instead, to make it safer," said the group's art director, Aleph Abi Saad.
The band's saxophone player, Alan O Tayek, who also plays the drums, said he was happy to be a part of the Madonna hype.
"Everyone is so excited and the atmosphere is great," Tayek said.
Tickets for the Madonna concerts are still available from Flash's website and from Virgin Megastores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Many packages, including hotel stays and tickets, also still being advertised.
Flash released a handful of extra tickets for the first show this week.
Tickets for the official after-party start from Dh300 and can also be bought from Flash.
The concerts are part of Madonna's MDNA 2012 World Tour to promote her 12th studio album.