Shakira arrives in the capital to begin preparing for her New Year's Eve concert at the Emirates Palace hotel.
Shakira arrives in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI // Shakira, the pop singer from Columbia, arrived in the capital this morning to begin preparing for her New Year's Eve concert at the Emirates Palace hotel. Even after an overnight flight from New York, the 31-year-old looked fresh-faced and beaming as she walked through the Abu Dhabi Airport. She greeted a group of fans with a shy "marhaba" on her arrival, confessing "I have to work on my Arabic". "I am very excited to be performing for New Year in Abu Dhabi," she said. "This region is very meaningful because my father is Lebanese, so I am as much Arab as I am Latina." The Grammy award winning star - famous for her hit single Hips Don't Lie - plans to perform in English, Spanish and "a little bit of Arabic" to an audience of 10,000 at the all-night La Rumba event, the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi. Given a name that means "thankful" in Arabic, Shakira said she grew up listening to some of the region's greatest artists, including the Lebanese singer Fairuz. "One of the first songs I used to perform when I was growing up was a song by Fairuz," she said. "In the Arab community where we lived in Colombia, everyone used to call me 'Little Fairuz'." Shakira has been performing Fairuz's famous song Shati Ya Dinia (Rain Oh World) on her world tour, to remind her fans of her Lebanese heritage. Most of Shakira's family left Lebanon at the turn of the 20th century, migrating to South America. She has visited Lebanon in recent years, in an attempt to connect with her Arab roots and was due to perform at the Beiteddine Festival there last year. The show was cancelled due to political unrest. This marks Shakira's first visit to the capital, although she was in the UAE to play to an audience of 25,000 at the Dubai Autodrome last year. "I'm very excited to be in Abu Dhabi," she said. "I've got some rehearsing to do but I want to see some of the place." She promises a few surprises as part of Wednesday's concert, along with a "great party atmosphere". "The concert will be very special and based on my world show." As for any New Year's resolutions, Shakira has vowed to put the finishing touches on her latest album. She has been working on the follow-up to her 2005 albums, the Spanish Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1 and the English Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, over the last year. "I really must finish it," she said. "It's taking longer than I'd hoped." She is also in talks to collaborate on music for a film with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Prize-winning Columbian author. The singer already pitched in to sing three songs on the soundtrack for last year's movie version of his novel Love in the Time of Cholera. VIP packages for Shakira's concert have sold out, with regular tickets available starting at Dh395 (US$107). She is due to perform for 90 minutes starting at 10.30pm. Etoiles nightclub is in charge of a party zone, located just beside the concert area, with Radio 1 broadcasting live from 6pm. A 12-minute firework display will welcome in the new year. email@example.com