Lebanese singer Nour Ardakani is the first Middle Eastern member of the global pop group ‘Now United,’ and it’s natural to assume that she played a tour guide for her bandmates as they touched down in Abu Dhabi for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards last weekend. But she lets us in on a secret as we sit down for a virtual joint interview with the members of the ensemble.
“Honestly at this point, I feel like they know the UAE as much as I do,” said Ardakani in an interview with Gulf News.
“We love this place, we love the food, and it makes me so happy because I am like their Middle East representative. It just warms my heart because I know they love this region as much as I do,” she added.
‘Now United’ is a groundbreaking pop group comprising 18 members from 18 countries, formed in 2017 by Simon Fuller, who’s famous for managing the career of the iconic British pop group The Spice Girls during the 1990s.
It’s believed that their global fan army, who go by the name ‘Uniters,’ love the diversity on display with ‘Now United.’ Encompassing talented singers and dancers from various countries, each member who is cherry-picked at various points represents their nation’s cultural and musical influences. Promoting unity in diversity is their dominant credo.
And they are no strangers to the UAE. Back in 2021, this group had famously camped at the Louvre Abu Dhabi to create a concert against the backdrop of the iconic landmark. The 18-piece collective, entitled ‘Now Love-Live From Abu Dhabi,’ is out now on YouTube.
“We loved the museum and that music video we did at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. We have so many memories here, and so many beautiful things we did make us so nostalgic when we return,” said Sina Deinert from Germany.
‘Now United’ was a big draw at the recently-concluded Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards as they performed to a full house. But how challenging is it to be a member of a large pop group, and do egos often interfere with the dynamics? Ardakani, who chooses to answer this question, keeps it pragmatic.
“No matter what career path you choose, there are good days and bad days. But specifically in our career paths and what we are doing, we have experienced very high highs and very low lows. But it’s great that we have each other because we are all experiencing the same thing together. We always go to each other for support, if we are low or high,” said Ardakani. And the only place that they let their claws out is when they play games.
“We are very serious about winning… When everyone is really energetic, we are like a circus. It can get crazy,” they said with a laugh.
During the interview over Zoom, it was heartening to see their collective camaraderie and genuine warmth for each other. The handful of members who attended the interview often high-fived and supported each other as they responded to the questions.
“I am more of a dancer than a singer, but everyone feels like an equal here… There’s no jealousy or anything. We have this great balance among us,” pointed out Deinert. And perhaps that collective goodwill reflects on their personalities and performances. What’s more, they aren’t just a big hit on stage. On the social media circuit, they have nearly 7 million followers on Instagram alone. Desirée Silva, the newest member from Brazil, admits that it was initially scary but she has gotten used to the constant scrutiny.
“I basically just got into the group, and suddenly there were thousands of people who began following me on social media. I was scared, but I feel calm and blessed now. Our ‘Uniters’ are usually very nice to us. I felt welcomed since the first day… While I know you can’t make everybody like you, I can’t believe the love we are getting. It’s surreal.”
And seeing the rest nod vigorously to her words was proof enough that ‘Now United’, the song-dance troupe, are on a mission to win over the globe - one great song and dance at at time.