Abu Dhabi: Her fans screamed as the lights went down and an enthusiastic Shakira appeared against a rainbow backdrop ready to bring in 2009.

A slightly somber atmosphere seemed to hang over the venue as revellers acknowledged neighbouring emirate, Dubai's decision to "cancel" New Year celebrations because of the violence in Gaza by order of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Something the Latin singer didn't mention throughout the gig to the disappointment of some concertgoers.

But the Grammy Award-winning singer turned things around by playing her trump card and winning over Arab fans with a touching few lines about being in the Middle East.

Shakira, whose father is half Lebanese, referred to her Arab roots as she took the stage but again failed to mention the violence in the Palestinian territory. “I'm the fruit of an Arab land, and I'm immensely proud of my Arab heritage,'' she said with a hand placed firmly across her chest.

“I just wanted you to know that and also that I can't think of a better place to spend New Year's Eve.''

The Latin pop star headlined the lavish New Year's Eve party at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi – a concert many, including organisers, had feared may not come off.

However, as they say in the business, the show must go on – and it did. Although not as many of the 10,000 tickets available sold as expected as the intimate concert failed to sell out.

Opening with a signature Spanish song (which not many recognized in fairness) the little Latina shook her hips as only she knows how and had fans dancing from the start.

Fans expressed mixed feelings about the concert going ahead even though many had paid hundreds of dirhams for tickets.

As well the Spanish numbers, the audience were treated to all the favourites including Hips Don't Lie, Underneath Your Clothes and Whenever Wherever – one which saw fans scream the words back up onto the stage as she bent down and put the microphone across the excited crowd below her.

Dressed in a cropped waistcoat style top and trousers the singer showed she's not just about the hips and dancing, which she claims to have picked up from her Arab grandmother, and played the acoustic guitar as part of her set.

Alexa Ferrintine, 24, a sales assistant from Dubai, originally from the UK, said the concert should go ahead but added it would have been nice if the singer had acknowledged the problems from the stage.

“Pop stars are influential and it is their words which would reach across borders and barriers – not mine. I thought someone like Shakira would know that. She's a bright girl.''

Roberto Lemmy, 18, traveled from Italy to see his favourite singer. He said: “She was awesome. I know there are problems in Gaza but we shouldn't all cancel events which could show support for these people.

"Maybe it would have been nice to collect money at the concert or something. Shakira was amazing and well worth the journey. I feel so lucky to have seen her perform in such a tiny venue. It's a dream come true for me.''

The concert, which included an impressive stage which has taken almost two weeks to construct, along with four giant party tents housing the Rumba Room for the after party, was Shakira's second gig in the UAE having performed once before at Dubai's Autodrome.

Clearly well-practiced and capable staff at the Emirates Palace ensured the concert, after party and taxi line ran smoothly and without a hitch.