If you’ve never witnessed the regional music scene in the UAE, you’re missing out on something special. But it’s never too late to see and hear the talented musicians who live in close proximity to you — especially now that a new, free-to-attend tour has been announced.
‘Live at Aloft’ will be a four-date series taking place across Dubai, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi, starting from November 13 and ending on January 8.
Who exactly is performing, and what can you expect from their sets? We break it down day by day and artist by artist.
November 13: Hadi, Mahdi Baccouch, Danny Aridi @ Aloft Me’aisam (The Backyard), Dubai
Hadi: Lebanese singer-songwriter Hadi is as soulful as they come. The soft rocker is a master of all trades — writing, recording, producing and mixing his own music. For fans of alt rock, Hadi’s songs — from ‘Invincible’ to ‘Your Ghost’ — are as gritty as they are gentle.
Mahdi Baccouch: Tunisian musician Mahdi Baccouch began his journey singing at cafes and restaurants, but he now boasts a major record deal with Universal Music MENA. The singer has a warm timbre and a traditional Middle Eastern flare for all you lovers of classic Arabic music.
Danny Aridi: Lebanese-Canadian Danny Aridi will bring his husky, resonant vocals to the stage with originals such as ‘Fool for You’ and ‘Wanderlust’. Aridi is known to bring his guitar along and put on stellar acoustic performances.
November 20: Carl & The Reda Mafia, Tara Rautenbach, Angi @ Aloft Al Ain (W XYZ), Al Ain
Carl & the Reda Mafia: One of our favourite UAE-based bands, Carl & the Reda Mafia are an alt rock act you have to catch live to fully relish. Their music is smoky and contemporary, yet funky and roguish; check out their collaboration ‘Taking Control’ for a taste.
Tara Rautenbach: South African singer Tara Rautenbach gives synth-pop a haunting depth with tracks such as ‘Official’ and ‘Are you the One’. The singer has an elusive vibe and a voice worth experiencing in person.
Angi: Up-and-coming Lebanese singer Angi’s smooth voice and romantic Arabic musings can be heard on tracks like ‘Na’albet Lehkayi’ and ‘Law Ma El Alb’. The singer celebrated her 25th birthday on October 30.
December 11: Fafa, Esther Eden, Ahmad Hassan @ Aloft Abu Dhabi (Brick), Abu Dhabi
Fafa: Emirati-Honduran singer Fafa has a larger-than-life tone that sounds infinite. The singer won Yasalam’s Emerging Talent Competition last year, and it’s easy to see why; her performance on tracks such as ‘Toxic Love’ and ‘Runnin’ (Can’t Stop Me)’ is infectious.
Esther Eden: The young Esther Eden, originally from India, got her start uploading covers to YouTube, but now has originals such as ‘This’ is ‘What It Feels Like’ that stand on their own. You might also remember Eden from that time English pop star Jessie J brought her up to perform with her in Dubai.
Ahmad Hassan: Formerly of ‘X Factor’ boy band The 5, Ahmad Hassan is now on a solo journey. The Egyptian pop star and heart-throb has a new track out called ‘Hetet Meraba’, an upbeat number that’s sure to have you on your feet.
January 8: Lea Makhoul, Almena, Stephon LaMar @ Aloft City Centre Deira (W XYZ), Dubai
Lea Makhoul: French-Lebanese singer Lea Makhoul most recently experimented with Latin pop on her single, ‘Ay Amor’. Makhoul, who opened up for Jennifer Lopez in Dubai two years ago, first rose to popularity in 2014 as the runner-up of the talent search contest, Star Academy Arabia.
Almena: The winners of Aloft Star 2018, Almena is a six-member Egyptian group that seamlessly blend Eastern and Western instruments, with vocalist Yousuf Nour on the trumpet, Adham Al Habashy on the oud, Mohammad Affara on lead guitar, Ahmad Abd Elrasoul on bass guitar, Omar Aly Abdou on keyboard and John Sadek beat boxing.
Stephon LaMar: Hailing from North Carolina, Stephon LaMar is a contemporary R’n’B singer with a flair for creating catchy tracks. LaMar was the 2017 winner of Aloft Star and subsequently released the foot-tapping single Love on the internet.