Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren was in the UAE last week to announce 'Untold Dubai', a music festival to be held in Expo City in February 2024 Image Credit: Supplied

Dutch trance legend Armin van Buuren knows a thing or two about making a dramatic splash of an entrance. Last week, when he was in the UAE to announce the inaugural chapter of Europe’s biggest music festival series to be held at Expo City Dubai in February 2024, this charismatic DJ brought home the message by filming a set at the top of the iconic Burj Khalifa.

“It was my biggest honour to play at this iconic building... I am very lucky because I don’t have any fear of heights. I know how much this extraordinary building means to the people of Dubai. It’s the tallest building in the world and holds such a legacy,” said Buuren in an interview with Gulf News. And the gravy? He managed to create a world record in between all of that by becoming the first DJ to film a set on the tallest building in the world. They used the entire building as a LED backdrop for the showcase.

“Having my own visuals on the biggest LED screens in the world felt mind-blowing. While recording the set, I couldn’t have a crowd in front of me because there was no stage. But there were drones and even a helicopter in the air recording all of it. At one point, I saw 13 drones filming everything,” he added.

Apparently, the challenging DJ set video shot atop the Burj Khalifa could be an ideal indicator of how the team behind ‘Untold Dubai’ were serious about putting together a world-class musical festival in February 2024. The line-up of DJs for ‘Untold Dubai’ is yet to be revealed, but Buuren who was a part of it from its inception in Romania since 2015, promises an epic event. Untold Festival is the largest electronic music festival held annually in Romania’s Cluj-Napoca and Dubai will have its first outpost. In Romania, the festival has attracted big names from the electronic music and pop scene including David Guetta, Major Kazer, Imagine Dragons, Tiesto, and Ellie Goulding.

“I definitely have this deep relationship with ‘Untold’ … In 2015, I was booked for this new festival in Romania. And I love to play in countries like Poland, Bulgaria, Romania because there’s something in their water with people loving the trance sounds. I arrived at the stadium that year around 3am and I was astounded to see 70,000 fans there. The vibe was crazy. I was booked to play a two-hour set, but I played for five hours,” said Buuren. Every year, he has gone back to that turf like an annual music pilgrimage.

“But I want to stress that I am not the only DJ playing at Untold Dubai in Expo City and they are planning a massive line-up... These guys don’t just put some speakers on stage, you can expect something special,” he added. Speaking of special connections, Buuren also has a special connect with Dubai.

A sneak peak into the action that goes on at the Untold music festival

“I have been coming here for many years, not just for gigging. I even spent my New Year’s Eve together with my parents. I flew them in along with my brother, his new girlfriend, and my two kids... We went to some amazing restaurants to enjoy the weather, the beaches here, and even visited the Museum Of The Future, theme parks, and did some incredible shopping,” said Buuren.

And what’s his secret to his long-enduring success and soaring fan base? Does he ever feel the pressure of being a public figure?

“There’s a lot of people who aspire to be successful DJs and I am so grateful with all the opportunities that I got all the success that was given to me. I thank my higher power for that. I don’t know what I have done to deserve it. Every day, I make a gratitude list because I am thankful to be here. I am 46 and I have been a top DJ for more than 20 years and I have travelled all over the world,” said Buuren.

Hitting the DJ decks is a “big honour,” for this versatile musician who put trance and Electronic Dance Music on the global map. According to him, his peers including David Guetta, Martin Garrix, and his buddy “Ruben” (De Ronde) are doing incredible work.

DJ Armin van Buuren loves Dubai and believes that those in this region have their pulse on trance

Buuren isn’t doing shabbily either. Apart from his hit songs, Buuren’s radio show has also been running for almost two decades with over 800 episodes. So has he thought of entering the world of movies, perhaps the song-dance Bollywood?

“Nobody has ever asked me that! But I am a great actor, or so my wife tells me,” said Buuren with a laugh.

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