Five musicians from the region will get a special new platform to showcase their work to thousands in Dubai.
Nakheel’s The Pointe has launched an initiative called Recognizing Emerging Local Musicians (RELM), which aims to support musicians and boost their careers, and will also lead to a music festival in October.
The artists who are part of RELM are Iraqi-Belgian singer and songwriter Sandra Sahi; Syrian composer, singer and Qanun player Nagham Debal; Emirati singer and songwriter Abri; French Lebanese singer and performer Lea Makhoul; and Palestinian singer and songwriter, Noel Kharman.
Through RELM’s support programme, an orchestrated fountain show will be choreographed to the musicians’ latest hits and added to The Palm Fountain’s annual line-up of performances.
‘RELM FEST’, a three-day music festival from October 21 to 23, will mark the second anniversary of The Palm Fountain and will see the debut of the five new fountain shows, to be unveiled through live performances featuring all five musicians.
Omar Khoory, Chief Assets Officer at Nakheel, said in a statement: “The music landscape in the UAE and the region is growing immensely and demands a platform that promotes this remarkable talent and also nurtures it to success. At Nakheel, we have joined forces with like-minded partners Anghami and TikTok, to champion rising stars and provide them with the means to gain visibility, grow and take their musical career to the next level.”
In email interviews with Gulf News, the five artists expressed their excitement at being part of a project that would celebrate their music and introduce them to a whole new audience — the thousands of visitors who flock to the popular destination.
Nagham Debal has made waves in the country for her mastery of the ancient string instrument called the Qanun.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for me to share my music through different platforms to spread my new concept to the world especially with a platform like The Palm Fountain. I’m looking forward to introducing the Qanun instrument in a different and modern way,” she said.
Debal added it was “extremely refreshing to see that emerging musicians are not only being recognised, but thoroughly supported as well. I’m extremely thrilled to be part of this event and I look forward to showcasing a unique instrument like the Qanun on the world’s largest fountain.”
Emirati singer Abri has been active in the UAE’s music scene for over a decade, and was the frontman of soul band ABRI. He has also performed alongside international acts such as Ziggy Marley, Erykah Badu and Kanye West.
“I have always seen the fountain shows at The Pointe and have been in awe of all the work put into the choreography, lights, sound,” Abri said. “The show really gives the songs a fresh new perspective, a new life. Never did I ever think that one of my songs would one day would be played at The Palm Fountain, the world’s largest fountain. It’s a big moment in my music journey so far. Like all my music I put my heart and soul into this new song and I hope the people watching the fountain show will feel that.”
Talking about the importance of championing regional music, he added: “I feel it’s super important because love and support begins at home, or in this case your hometown. All international renowned artists started their career and journey in their hometown, city or country before the rest of the world embraced them. That’s why a project like RELM is so important because it gives the local artists that platform and opportunity to be seen and supported and they will continue doing that for many more artists in the future.”
Palestinian singer and songwriter Noel Kharman, who went viral in 2015 for her mashup of Adele’s song ‘Hello’ and Fairouz’s ‘Kifak Inta’, will be one of the stars debuting new music at the event. She said that this opportunity is a far cry from when she first started releasing songs.
“At first when I started my first EP I was really scared, then I started to do everything in order and told myself whatever is meant to happen will happen,” she said. “The positive I received was overwhelming and fuelled my motivation even more. I’m especially excited to launch my new song with RELM... This song is a bit different than the others as it has a different dialect, so there are still some fears, but the excitement is very much there, especially since this song means so much to me personally.”
French Lebanese singer Lea Makhoul’s track ‘C’est La Vie’ will be played out at the fountain and she expressed joy at working with other talented artists.
“Any project that merges artists together excites me as I believe we should always support each other and lift each other up,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about! I also believe getting this level of support and visibility came at such an opportune time as I’m introducing a brand new French EP to the world.”
Makhoul added: “We live in a world where new music, new artists are being discovered every single day. There’s so much talent in the UAE and the region with not enough platforms and support from brands to spotlight these rising artists... We all have a story to share. This is why RELM came at such a critical time, because it’s leading the way for inspiring and supporting other rising musicians, who have the talent, but simply want to be heard.”
Iraqi-Belgian singer and songwriter Sandra Sahi, who is based in Dubai, said it’s a “blessing” to be part of the initiative and she didn’t think twice about saying yes.
Asked about how she hopes audience will react to her music, she said: “I can only hope that through this coming track they see and hear who Sandra is and where she comes from. Being Iraqi, growing up in Belgium and living in the UAE for over 10 years now, I have come across so many people, cultures, languages and I hope that the listeners do get a taste of my life in the most artistic way.”
She added: “If I knew in 10 years ago when I first moved here that I’d be where I am today, I would have laughed at myself. This goes to show if you are a devoted artist and passionate about your craft, keep going at it, keep singing, keep writing lyrics, don’t let doubts get in the way and you’ll surely be on the right path to something big and beautiful.”