Michel Elefteriades is one of the more colourful figures on Lebanon’s cultural landscape.
But the self-crowned ‘Emperor of Nowheristan’ is best known as the man behind Beirut’s famous MusicHall.
Attracting Sting and his family, Zucchero and Kevin Spacey to name a few, the cinema-cum-nightclub is renowned for its live music sets and raucous audiences.
Since its inception in 2003, the underground club has gone from strength to strength, now resulting in a branch at the Palm’s Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, the first outside of Lebanon.
Elefteriades made a name for himself when he founded and directed the Mediterraneo Byblos International Festival, which would eventually become Byblos International Festival.
A painter, writer, politician and public speaker, perhaps his more unusual hobby is Nowheristan — a new nation with a new social, philosophical, political and cultural approach.
In his search for a just and better world where the notions of justice, liberation and equality prevail, Elefteriades explained the ceremony of proclamation of the Great Empire of Nowheristan received the United Nations’ support by the presence of the UN Secretary-General’s personal representative and the Lebanese Minister of Culture.
Now the concept has more than 55,000 Nowheristanis from around the world.
His Imperial Highness Michel I of Nowheristan (aka Elefteriades) talks to tabloid! about MusicHall Dubai, which opened on Friday.
Explain the MusicHall concept.
Described by international media as “the place where the heart of world fusion music beats”, MusicHall is more than just a theatre venue, much more than a club. It is a live music stage presenting a new and unique concept: very short live musical acts unveiling talents with different cultural backgrounds from all around the world. Added to that is our refined gourmet menu.
What was the initial inspiration behind MusicHall?
Music. I come from a music production background, and MusicHall is all about good music. In an era of DJs, I thought of embracing a DJ approach, applying it to live music.
Some famous faces have frequented the venue?
Many celebrities from different fields have enjoyed MusicHall over the years, the list is too long to go through. We believe all our clients are treated like celebrities.
You live a rather eccentric and creative life. How does MusicHall feed this for you?
A deal has been made between MusicHall and me, and it’s all about reciprocity: while I feed it with music, musical scores, arrangements, ideas, MusicHall feeds me financially to fulfil my dreams.
Why will MusicHall work in Dubai and what should people know before they book?
MusicHall would work anywhere. People should know they are coming to enjoy, party, cheer up. To rediscover things that had vanished from nightlife since back in the 90s. MusicHall is the lair of healthy cultural entertainment, some kind of ritual dance celebrations for modern tribes.
It’s also pretty exciting for the local music scene. Will local acts have a chance to perform and how can people audition?
I am open to suggestions, talent being any artist’s visa to my stage.
What would you say to Dubai’s hardcore clubbing community about the appreciation of a different kind of music?
Come discover my world. “Varieté fait beauté”, as the French say (beauty resides in variety).
MusicHall Beirut is an institution. How do you plan to make Dubai the same?
I am someone who never plans such things, rather choosing to do what I like in life, endeavouring to render it as perfect as possible. No feasibility studies, no marketing plans... passion, per se.
How long have you been making arrangements to bring MusicHall to the UAE?
I have had a lot of proposals for different cities. However, MusicHall Dubai is the first to open, ten years after the launch of its pioneer in Beirut.
Any clues/snippets/sneak peeks at the acts you plan to bring from Beirut?
The authors of such acts will be coming from all around the world, impregnated with talent, charisma, energy... determined to conquer your hearts, taking you on a journey through space and time.
MusicHall will be open every Thursday and Friday from 9pm-3am, available for private hire during the week. There is no entrance fee, but there is a minimum spend. Call 056-2708670 and visit themusichall.com.