x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Womad goes on thanks to airlift

The organisers of the Womad festival have hired a plane to ensure 100 of the performers and backstage crew get here.

ABU DHABI // Faced with seeing their music festival derailed by the European flight ban, the organisers of Womad have hired a plane to ensure 100 of the performers and backstage crew get here. The plane took off from Marseille in the south of France yesterday afternoon with many of the acts including Babylon Circus, Rachid Taha and Le Trio Joubran on board. It was expected to arrive this morning, in plenty of time for the start of the three-day world music event tonight. Chris Smith, the director of Womad, arrived on one of the last flights from London before the ash cloud grounded European flights.

He said the effort made by the artists scheduled to play in Abu Dhabi had been "amazing". Femi Kuti, the Nigerian musician, had to cancel a concert in Germany to reach Abu Dhabi on time. Other acts had to travel hundreds of miles overland to reach Marseille. The only unconfirmed act was the London-based group Transglobal Underground. * Anna Seaman and Layla al Rashedi