TAB_121228_NICKI International superstar and music icon Nicky Minaj performs live in concert at the Meydan in Dubai on Friday. PHOTO CLINT EGBERT/GULF NEWS Image Credit:

The Dubai Meydan Racecourse was bursting at its seams — there were girls and boys, young and old as the crowd started gathering from 8pm onwards to see Nicki Minaj take to the stage on her Middle East debut on Friday.

And when she did some three hours later, belting out ‘Beez in the Trap’ in a denim corseted ruffled dress ably supported by her back-up dancers, the tardiness was all but forgiven.

“Hello Dubai, how are you? It’s awfully nice of you to join me tonight,” she crooned, sounding eerily like Lene Nystrøm of Aqua fame, the former Barbie girl.

Pink wigs seemed to be the trend of the day with many sporting the now famous short bob. However, Minaj opened the show as a blonde with a pink curly haired one emerging later.

Her usually controversial clothing was toned down, Minaj even wore a vest under a particularly busty outfit — we wonder if it was out of respect for cultural sensitivities or she was just feeling chilly.

With many of an impressionable age in the audience, Minaj had words of advice for them, “Do not drop out of school and do not give your cookies out to every Tom, Dick and Harry. I am so proud of each and every one of you,” she said, before going on to sing ‘Moment for life’.

She got her Barbs (what she fondly calls her female fans) singing to ‘Bottoms Up’ next.

Minaj had her audience enthralled and involved in every song — calling for a cute, dark chocolate boy before singing ‘Va Va Voom’ and telling us about a boy who was everything before moving on to her massive hit ‘Super Bass’.

Sporting pink curly hair and a pink dressing gown, she mellowed down for ‘Right Through Me’ and later showed us how we each had a little bit of Marilyn Monroe in us — thumbs up for her tribute to one of the most colourful personalities of times past.

“You are perfect to me, you mean the world to me,” she told her fans after that soulful performance.

Her performance of ‘Automatic’ saw her take to stage in a glitzy policeman’s hat in a pink bubble car and gave us the impression she was driving on clouds.

“Dubai, do you know how incredible you are, how beautiful you are? Could I tell you how much I love you?” she asked winning hearts all around.

“Nicki Minaj was incredible, just incredible. So happy we bought tickets for this. One of the best concerts Dubai has seen,” Ana Jones gushed.

Her friend Dominique Sebastien could only manage a thumbs up and kept saying “Brilliant, just brilliant.”

We weren’t witness to her rendition of the popular ‘Starships’ as we were rushed backstage to be prepped for our interview with her. But the noise the crowd was making was enough to tell us it was good, really good.