Dubai winter music

Time Out looks into its crystal ball to see what’s up for the UAE in the coming months

Music feature
Music feature

The UAE’s a tricky beast when it comes to music. The labyrinthine licensing system means that most small music events are announced mere weeks before they happen, and bigger ones can appear with only a month or so’s notice.

Still, we’ve managed to round up some of the UAE acts appearing in the coming months. It starts off on October 16 with a return visit by Niki Mukhi And Friends at the First Group Theatre, which will feature tunes inspired by flamenco, jazz, qawwali, Indian classical and soul. And, on October 22-24, the theatre will play host to Tenderhook, a piece of Scottish dance theatre. If you’re looking for something a bit more mainstream – and are under 21 – give thanks for UndeRage, a student-aimed event whose first bout will see local rock band Nikotin and UK R&B singer Ramzi visiting Dubai International Academic City on October 21.

And if variety’s your thing, make The Fridge’s winter season a weekly fixture. Every Monday, starting on October 5, the Al Quoz music-space will host a varied series of nights, including Arabic fusion from Dahab (October 19, circle pic) and solo cello from Aaron Kim (November 2).

But the first really big music acts to come to the UAE in the next three months aren’t actually coming to Dubai. Nope, our sister emirate of Abu Dhabi is making the most of its time in the Grand Prix limelight by bringing in the likes of Aerosmith (November 1) and Beyoncé (October 29). However, those looking to take in the splendour of Steve Tyler’s impressive lips and Beyoncé’s impressive, er, talent will have to shell out at least Dhs1,600 for a three-day ticket. Happily, those without that kind of money – which is most people, surely? – can check out rapper Timbaland on the Corniche (October 30) for the grand sum of nothing.

Not that Dubai’s being left behind – following on from the Ian Brown/Dirty Vegas gig last week, Dubai SoundCity will hit town on November 5-7. The biggest musical festival to ever come to the country, this could decide the future of music in the UAE.

The lineup was still growing at the time of going to print, but includes UK indie heroes Doves, raver legends Happy Mondays, old-school stars Echo And The Bunnymen, pop kids Alphabeat and Gabriella Cilmi, hip hop act De La Soul, indie kids The Wombats and – our personal favourites – weirdy-beardy Welshmen Super Furry Animals, We can’t wait.

Abu Dhabi will try to wrest control back from Dubai on December 8 with annoyingly catchy (and often just annoying) rockers The Killers, while Dubai will fire back on December 17 with, er, The Backstreet Boys. They’re back again and doing songs from their new album. Let’s hope they don’t neglect the hits, though.
Tickets for Niki Mukhi, Tenderhook, The Killers, The Backstreet Boys and Dubai SoundCity can be bought from

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