The sheer geographical diversity of acts that fly into Dubai on a regular basis is amazing – from Indian qawwali to American jazz, Malian grooves to Filipino pop. Kicking off on Thursday March 7, the 10-day du World Music Festival features 15 top acts from across the globe. It’s a chance to unite and celebrate different cultures – as well as broaden your musical palate. And, best of all, many of the best gigs are free. Here’s your essential guide.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
Rahat is the nephew of late qawwali vocalist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Not only did the Pakistani vocalist train under his uncle, he has collaborated with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
Dhs150-995. 9pm, Wednesday March 7. Burj Park, Downtown Burj Khalifa, www.timeouttickets.com
The Gipsy Kings
The radio-friendly Kings get a fair bit of flack for their rumba-flamenco-pop. But with a joyous haze of exotic guitar strums and rowdy chorus vocals, there’s no denying this band know how to get a crowd going. Also be assured that The Gipsy Kings are the real deal – the septet is made up entirely of members of the related Reyes and Baliardo families, who are descended from Catalonian gypsies.
Dhs250-325. 9pm, Thursday March 8. Burj Park, Downtown Burj Khalifa, www.timeouttickets.com
Stanley Clarke Trio
Known as one of the best electric bassists in the world, Clarke’s most notorious work was as a member of ‘70s fusion pioneers Return to Forever, lead by Chick Corea. In his acoustic early days he shared sessions with the likes of Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, and Stan Getz, before his switch to electric bass guitar, and later crossed over to rock playing with Jeff Beck and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.
Bringing over his latest trio, the 60-year-old is still going strong, with his last LP Stanley Clarke Band picking up a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.
Free. 7pm, Thursday March 8. Burj Steps, Downtown Burj Khalifa.
Amit Chatterjee Alliance
Indian guitarist and sitar player Chatterjee combines an education in American-European pop with classical music from his homeland. He worked for seven years alongside legendary American fusion pioneer Joe Zawinul, with the Weather Report band founder dubbing him a ‘genius’. This free show is set to be a muso’s paradise.
Free. 7pm, Saturday March 10. Burj Steps, Downtown Burj Khalifa.
Afro-pop musician Keita should never have been a singer. Born a direct descendant of the Mali Empire’s founder, Sundiata Keita, the profession was well below Salif’s caste. Despite that, he’s been producing music for more than 30 years. His struggles have only been exasperated by albinism, clear on his latest album La Différence.
Free. 7pm, Sunday March 11. Burj Steps, Downtown Burj Khalifa.
Guitarist Benson has united – and divided – music lovers for decades. Starting life as a feisty bop guitarist in the mid-’60s, by the ’70s he was beginning a slow descent towards vocal pop, which culminated in the ’80s soul balladry for which he became a household name. We hear he’s on jazzy form now, but we’re sure those sultry vocals will make an appearance.
Dhs195-500 (with Gabrielle). 9pm, Friday March 16. Burj Park, Downtown Burj Khalifa, www.timeouttickets.com
In the mid-’90s, it was hard to go near a radio in the UK without hearing wafts of Gabrielle’s hits ‘Dreams’, ‘Rise’ and ‘Out of Reach’. Winner of two Brit Awards (and two Mobos), the soul-pop diva has dipped off the radar, but never let off the pace, with a sixth album pencilled in for later this year. Appearing with George Benson, we’re expecting a dewy-eyed duo.
Dhs195-500. 9pm, Friday March 16. Burj Park, Downtown Burj Khalifa www.timeouttickets.com