There is a lot of noise in the music world, but when the chips are counted and the dirhams rolled to the bank, who comes out on top?
The UAE has no official body for counting record sales, but the vast majority of CDs are sold through a single retailer, Virgin Megastore. So to find out which UAE acts are clocking the highest sales, we just went to the source, and asked – simple.
Using these stats we’ve compiled a list of the best-selling UAE album releases of the past 12 months (June 2015 to now).
Theory of Mind (Metal East Records)
There are few places in the world where a heavy metal band could be crowned the best-selling local act, so immense respect goes out to scary sounding Svengali, who matched pneumatic riffs with a smart marketing campaign, propelling Theory of Mind to number two in Virgin’s international charts upon its May 2015 release.
2. Pasha Cazan
Back from the Souq (Daxar)
Moldavian violin virtuoso Cazan has clocked incredible recognition for a solo instrumentalist on this assured crossover package, which places her soaring string workouts with electro beats and Middle Eastern melodies.
3. Jawdat Outree
Strings from the Past (MBI)
Another impressive instrumental outing from Syrian guitarist and composer Outree, who channels regional traditions old and new on this atmospheric oriental-tinged collection, released in March.
4. Pierre Ravan
KaRavan, Vol. 9 – With Love from Dubai to Ibiza (Clubstar)
Globetrotting, internationally renowned, Dubai-based spiritual house DJ Ravan still causes a stir with the ninth edition of his ongoing KaRavan mix concept.
5. DJ Bliss
Made in Dubai (Universal)
Calling on a raft of local faces – including Hamdan Al-Abri, Juliana Down’s Dia Hassan and Clarita de Quiroz – and five years in the making, this homegrown compilation from Emirati DJ Bliss was a smart snapshot of the local scene, packing some notable radio-friendly hits.
All Is Not For All (Melodic Revolution Records)
A high placing for this strong second LP from longstanding metal sextet Anuryzm, whose members are spread across Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Their progressive/thrash stylings may be anything but commercial, but do the business anyway.
7. Dr Anas vs Kale
House Therapy (MBI)
Something of a curiosity here, with this double-disc, mix CD packs all the dance trends of precisely five years ago, when it was originally released. We can only presume this exclusive UAE release has some hidden gems that keep folk coming back for more.
8. Kamal Musallam
Lulu (K&G Records)
Recorded back in 2009 and then finally released in 2012, Jordanian fusionist Musallam’s tribute to his adopted homeland continues to endure. An ambitious and beguiling set pitting an Emirati folk group alongside jazz and funk musicians, Lulu remains a unique, highly personal tribute to the nation.
9. Naser Mestarihi
Praed Street (MBI)
Dividing time between his homeland and the UAE, where his band is based, we’re happy to call established Qatari rocker Mestarihi one of our own, especially in light of his second album, a strong set of Brit-influenced classic rock which has clocked high sales since an April release.
The Covenant (MBI)
The strength of the UAE’s thriving metal scene is laid bare with this final, growl-and-squeal entry from extreme experimentalists Benevolent. Formed in Kuwait in 2007 but now based in the UAE, last year’s The Covenant marked the group’s long-awaited full-length debut.