x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Womad ends with cheers

Thousands flocked to the stage areas and workshops during Abu Dhabi's third Womad festival.

The Sufi musician Sain Zahoor performs at the Abu Dhabi Corniche last night on the closing day of the Womad festival.
The Sufi musician Sain Zahoor performs at the Abu Dhabi Corniche last night on the closing day of the Womad festival.

ABU DHABI // Crowds burst into cheers last night and swayed to the beat of the renowned Sufi musician Sain Zahoor on the final night of Womad.

As he played the tumba, which was covered with flowers and beads, families with their children from all nationalities - including a large number of Pakistanis - filtered into the crowd.

Womad, which began on Thursday night in the capital and Al Ain, ended last night. On the first night, 20,000 visitors had flocked to the stage areas and workshops, with estimates that well over 50,000 attended over the three days.

"Since the music is in Urdu and Punjabi most people are from Pakistan because they could relate to the songs," said Nadia Majeed, a 30-year-old Pakistani-Welsh freelance researcher and writer.

People from other nationalities also were attracted to the performance. "Zahoor who is an old artist, in his 70s, appeals to young audiences because he collaborates his music with rock," she added.

Mohammed al Daqqaq, a 27-year-old PR executive from Jordan, said he enjoyed the opening night with a variety of music and dances including African style, which was something new that he said he could only see at Womad.

"From year to year, I wait for such bands, and Womad is known to be the only function here that brings such bands and performers."

He added: "Everyone is excited and people are hopping from stage to stage to catch the performances, which creates such a happy vibe."

Over the course of the three-day festival, some of the significant performers included Jimmy Cliff, the Maganiyar Seduction by Roysten Abel and Hindi Zahra.

The workshops began with Baaba Maal's musicians and dancers at Trispan on Thursday night. There was also a screening of a short animation Abu Dhabi Dub produced by students and Womad Beyond artist David Cox and his team of photographers, musicians and filmmakers. Children also had their share of activities, including workshops focused on camel hairdressers. With Malarky and the Young Archeaologists, they were able to create brightly coloured masks and dig for buried treasures.

The festival closed with a performance by Balkan music performer Goran Bregovic.