x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Dubai music scene hits right note with world fans

The UAE - and the world - are bracing for a weekend of Bieber fever, with 40 per cent of the crowd expected to have flown in from abroad.

One of the reasons behind Dubai’s success as a music fan magnet, although it might not have felt like it over the past month, is the weather. Pawan Singh / The National
One of the reasons behind Dubai’s success as a music fan magnet, although it might not have felt like it over the past month, is the weather. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // The UAE - and the world - are bracing for a weekend of Bieber fever, with 40 per cent of the crowd expected to have flown in from abroad.

Thomas Ovesen, whose company Done Events is promoting the Bieber concerts tomorrow and on Sunday, says they will be yet more evidence of the growing popularity of Dubai's music scene on a global level.

"Dubai has long been a treasured leisure and entertainment destination and is by far the most tourist-visited city in the Gulf," Mr Ovesen said.

"So when concerts with international artists are in town, it only adds to the pull of the city.

"People really like the excuse to spend an extra day here or make another trip to Dubai to enjoy such concerts."

The regular Sandance festivals on the Palm Jumeirah are a big hit with international visitors.

The likes of Dizzy Rascal, Snow Patrol and Calvin Harris have helped it to grow to the point where it now regularly sells out its 10,000 tickets.

Next weekend, Florence and the Machine and Keane will headline the event.

Julie Cunningham, 30, a tax manager in Scotland, has made more than one trip to Dubai for the festival, timing visits with her brother Mark, a resident of the city, to coincide with it.

She first went to Sandance in May last year, when Travis and Fatboy Slim were headlining. More recently, she came to see Noel Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft in March.

"Back home in the UK I am a fan of High Flying Birds [Gallagher's band] and when I found out Richard Ashcroft was supporting this event that sealed the deal. I had to be there," Ms Cunningham said.

"With Emirates having two flights from the UK a day now, it makes Dubai more accessible to go for a long weekend."

One of the reasons behind the city's success as a music fan magnet, although it might not have felt like it over the past month, is the weather.

"I would be wrapped up with wellington boots and no doubt dancing and singing in the rain if the gig was in Scotland," Ms Cunningham said.

"Sandance is an amazing party in the sunshine."

Tamari Jakonia, 23, will be coming to Sandance next week from Georgia, taking a three-hour flight on her first trip to the UAE.

"I love the spirit of festivals and I heard Sandance is one of the best and the line-up for May 10 is exceptional," said the tourism executive.

She has several tours planned during her seven nights in Dubai.

Enda Waters is an Irish chef living in Doha. She and her friend have travelled to see tonight's David Guetta performance at Nassimi Beach.

Both of their husbands are pilots, giving them access to cheaper travel, so Dubai has become a weekend retreat. This weekend she is staying with her sister in the city.

"I know lots of people in Doha who fly to Dubai regularly for concerts," Ms Waters said. "A huge amount went over for The Script recently and there's a lot bringing their children over this weekend for Justin Bieber."

"Doha is quite quiet and we get very few concerts. Dubai is seen as the place to go for all decent concerts, which is a pity as Doha has some nice places that they could host concerts."

Ravini Perera, senior vice president at Atlantis The Palm, which hosts the event, says Sandance has brought crowds of 44 nationalities from countries including China, Indonesia and the UK, people both planning trips for the event and planning stopovers around it.

"Two to three per cent of the audience will be staying in the hotel," she said.

Others who will attend have opted for cheaper or alternative accommodation.

"First we'd have assumed it would just have been day visitors coming to the event but then we started packaging it together, thinking people even living here would like an overnight stay to make a weekend of it as it runs late into the night," Ms Perera said.

"Markets as far as the UK have been coming for the event and just going back."

There have also been visitors from countries including Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.

"The diversity of the countries and cultures shows that music is international," Ms Perera said.

mswan@thenational.ae