Only in Dubai will a VIP queue be longer and more disorganised than the standard entry. And while the people in the standard entry were let in and enjoyed the early acts at Monday night’s Atelier New Year’s Eve concert at Meydan, the VIP queue continued to snake upon itself as seemingly nobody was permitted entry.
The longer people waited, the more tempers grew. After two hours the queue had descended into a Lord of the Flies-esque scenario before people surged forward and the gatekeepers finally relented and let people in.
Inside, chaos continued at the refreshments area, while Gorillaz Sound System brought their fictional world to life with upbeat hip-hop, R&B and electronica including the Run the World (Girls) master track and a The Streets-type garage and dub vibe.
Random fights ensued in the highly-charged atmosphere as the crowd got swaying, loosening their hips and trying to mellow down to the Snoop vibe.
After midnight and the Burj Khalifa fireworks (rather low-key this year), the man most came to see took over the stage. Snoop Dogg looked dapper and very Middle Eastern in a black tuxedo-style thobe, provided to him by Saudi designer Hatem Al Akeel of the Toby label. With an over-sized ring covering his fist, he easily outblinged all wannabes in the reportedly more than 15,000-strong audience -- who might not have been eating but certainly were drinking and being very merry.
He got the pimp music he asked for in P.I.M.P., and segued into Beautiful after asking for “something for the ladies”. One of his dancers, meanwhile, gave a master class in booty popping.
Ever authentic, Snoop didn’t mind his language as he went through Next Episode (Hold Up), Gin and Juice and the not-family-friendly version of Akon’s I Wanna Love You, and the crowd didn’t need a second invitation to join him on the naughty chorus.
California Gurls and a moment of silence for slain rapper Tupac struck a chord, but a call for “West Coast gangster sh*t” went a bit over the crowd’s head.
Snoop got a woman out of the audience for Sexual Seduction then went old-school with Upside Ya Head, Wet, Jump Around, Drop it Like it’s Hot, What’s My Name and the massive Wiz Khalifa hit Young, Wild & Free.
Faithless’ Maxi Jazz and Sister Bliss were up next, but most were leaving to try and beat the rush for taxis. Alas, we couldn’t get no sleep, because there were none.
How Snoop got his look
When we spoke to Saudi designer Hatem Al Akeel on New Year’s Eve, he was rushing to a second fitting with US rapper Snoop Dogg, ahead of his performance at the Atelier party at Meydan. “This guy really knows his style,” Al Akeel said over the phone, having already presented the rapper with four pieces from his collection of modernised thobes, traditional menswear from the Gulf. Snoop fans will remember the rapper wore a khandoura at his concert in Abu Dhabi in 2010. “They contacted me,” for that concert, said Al Akeel, “but we didn’t make it on time. I made sure we were ready this time.”
Snoop chose a tuxedo style thobe from the collection, which he wore throughout his performance, making his Dubai debut. “It was really refreshing to see what he thinks about [thobes],” said the designer. “I was completely floored to have Snoop Dogg wear my tuxedo thobe on stage,” said Al Akeel by email on New Year’s Day. “He even sported my peace bracelet and had all the dancers and entire team wear them. I was completely blown away and honoured. He could not have represented my brand Toby Peace and Toby by Hatem Alakeel any better.”