Singer-songwriters and poets take the mic in Al Fahidi
The Emirates Literature Festival returns this March, but before that it’s hosting one of its popular evenings of musical performances and poetry. Benita Adesuyan finds out more from the festival’s Yvette Judge.
Dubai is sometimes criticised for lacking the depth of arts and culture of rival cities such as New York and London, but here at Time Out, we beg to differ. Creative communities do exist here and they are all over the city and the arts scene in particular is starting to blossom.
Yvette Judge is Acting Festival Director for the Emirates Literature Festival, which returns this year from March 4-8, and in her three years working for the event she has seen Dubai’s appetite and appreciation for music, spoken word and literature develop massively. The Lit Fest as it is known began in 2009 and is now is the largest festival of its kind in the Middle East. One of the events that has grown from its success is the Musical Evening – A Night of Distinction. The event, held this week on Saturday January 25, is a showcase of music from students from Trinity College London based in the UAE. The evening will see the finest musical talent from the college perform a variety of songs and performance poetry.
The Night of Distinction is part of the Lit Fest Open Doors Series, and forms part of a set of events that continue throughout the year – before and after the main festival – giving the whole community access to entertainment and information.
Set in the Literary Courtyard outside the Lit Festival’s office, the event takes place under the stars and the organisers hope that it will build on last year’s success. ‘The event is part of the relationship that started at the beginning of 2013,’ says Judge. ‘It’s born out of a desire on the part of Tyler Smith at Trinity to give performance opportunities to all these talented students and their teachers, it’s an opportunity to have more live music in Dubai. It is hard to get open mic events but the small events we’ve hosted here when we have had poetry have been very well attended.’
The event will give these students a great opportunity and encourage more creative culture in the city. Judge has observed a growing interest in poetry and in particular, Nabiti.
‘Nabiti poetry uses the local dialect, it’s a performance poetry and it is beloved of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who writes Nabiti poetry himself. The form is unique to this region – but not widely known outside the region. It will feature heavily at Lit Fest.’
It seems that not only is the love of literature growing but in a culturally diverse city, it’s helping people strengthen their identities. ‘Interest in these events is growing and for Nabiti – people are connecting with their heritage through literature.’
Events like this aim to connect the community through arts and if you love live music and the spoken word then it is worth getting involved with the Open Door Series events throughout the year. Who says Dubai has no culture! Free. Saturday January 25, 7pm-9pm. Literary Courtyard, Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood, www.emirateslitfest.com (04 353 4002).
Cultural nights out
Les Grandes Bouches This creative French group uses a mixture of improvisation and rehearsed work, fusing singing, clapping, clicking as well as their own bodies to create jazz swing music. Check the group out at a performance on Thursday January 30. Dhs200. 8pm. Alliance Française, Street 18, Oud Metha, www.afdubai.org, (04 335 87 12).
Open Mic Poetry Night Budding poets are invited to this open mic night at the BookMunch bookshop on Thursday January 30. Organised and hosted by local poet Zeina Hachem Beck, three or four key poets will read first, and then the floor and the mic is open to whoever has a poem to share. Contact BookMunch for reservations as space is limited. Free. 8.30pm-10.30pm. BookMunch Café and Bookshop, Al Wasl Square, www.facebook.com/bookmunch (04 388 4006).