Artists announced for Peter Gabriel's WOMAD debut in Abu Dhabi next month
Source: BI-ME , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: Wed March 4, 2009 12:00 am

UAE. Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and WOMAD (World Of Music Arts & Dance) yesterday announced that the WOMAD Abu Dhabi three-day open-air festival is to be held on the evenings of Thursday 23, Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, with an additional, special one-off concert on Friday 24 April at Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain. Furthermore, entry to both venues will be free of charge.

‘The Corniche, with its backdrop of traditional architecture juxtaposed with modern cosmopolitan towers, provides the perfect stage for ADACH and WOMAD to promote their shared vision of bringing diverse cultures and peoples closer together through the music, arts and dance of many different countries and cultures around the world.

"By hosting this three-day open-air festival, the first of its kind in the Gulf region, Abu Dhabi will bring a whole new cultural experience to the people of the UAE and will attract an audience from across the Gulf region and beyond, as well as offering the world an insight into the proud traditions and culture of the UAE," said HE Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouie, Director General ADACH.

"We are delighted to begin a relationship with ADACH and Abu Dhabi. It is a great opportunity for WOMAD to find a home in the Gulf region. We have taken WOMAD to many places in the world, but this will be our first event in the Middle East, a part of the world whose strong and rich culture has been one of our inspirations. We are excited to be bringing our festival to all of the different peoples who make up modern day Abu Dhabi," said Peter Gabriel, Co-founder of WOMAD.

"ADACH has a very powerful vision for the role of culture in Abu Dhabi and it is a privilege for WOMAD to be able to play a part in delivering that vision of bringing cultures together as we have done successfully all over the world," said Chris Smith, Director, WOMAD.

An exceptional line-up of artists performing at the festival has been selected from around the world and within the Middle East region to provide a truly international experience.

The artists already confirmed for the WOMAD Abu Dhabi festival include: Abdulla Chhadeh & Syriana (Syria/Europe), Dulsori (Korea), Dhafer Youssef (Tunisia), Etran Finatawa (Niger), Paprika Balkanicus (South Europe), Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali (Pakistan). Souad Massi (Algeria), Trilok Gurtu (India).

More artists will be announced over the coming weeks.

Real World Records and ADACH have begun discussions with the plan of giving a platform to Emirati and Arabic artists through the label. Real World Records was launched in 1989 and has grown into a label of wide-ranging, world-class music from all corners of the globe. The music company said it is interested to discover music from the Arab world, which can be released on Real World, promoted digitally through its website and introduced via our association with the B&W Music Club.

The company said it would like to explore the potential of bringing the chosen artist who will perform at WOMAD Charlton Park this July coming to Real World Studios for a recording session. "We are excited about the discovery of music from this part of the world and introducing it to new audiences," said a statement.

The WOMAD Abu Dhabi festival is not just about music. There will also be a variety of workshops and other activities, running before and during the three-day festival, designed to encourage greater cultural understanding through education and audience participation, making WOMAD Abu Dhabi a truly interactive experience for all ages.

The WOMAD Foundation has over 20 years’ experience of working within a broad educational context bringing the arts of global cultures into the classroom, as well as initiating opportunities for cultural exchange at the festivals themselves. The foundation continues to look for new ways of engaging with young people through an incredible range of music, dance and visual arts from countries as far apart as Mexico, South Korea, Southern Africa and Australia. The WOMAD Foundation in partnership with ADACH presents 'WOMAD Beyond'.

WOMAD Beyond will encourage children to approach the unknown in an open and enquiring way, to explore the richness and diversity of the arts of global cultures including their own. The aims for the pre-festival project are:

• To offer a programme of work which will augment the current curriculum in both the local Arabic and international schools
• To introduce children to international artists and give opportunities for shared learning and cultural exchange
• To encourage creativity amongst young people
• To demonstrate the inherent richness and diversity within both Arabic and non-Arabic cultures
• To engender respect and understanding

This educational outreach programme for schools will bring musicians and visual artists from Zimbabwe, South Korea, India, Algeria and the UK into schools in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain from 6 April – 20 April, prior to the WOMAD Abu Dhabi festival. Workshops will include, percussion, dance, voice, musical collaborations, and arts and crafts of the Indian subcontinent and carnival arts from UK. Confirmed artists will be announced soon.

The WOMAD workshop programme has been an integral part of every WOMAD festival since 1982. For everyone, including the artists themselves, one of the most enjoyable and popular aspects of each WOMAD festival is its programme of workshops, master-classes and artist dialogues. Artists performing at WOMAD Abu Dhabi will be leading workshops sessions every night of the festival, where audiences can discover more about the artists, their culture, musical inspirations and experiences.

Discover the folk dances of South Korea, or the power of the Qawaali devotional vocal traditions from India and Pakistan and much more in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. In these sessions audiences are able to acquire a greater understanding of the cultural context of the artists’ music and traditions.

WOMAD is renowned for its family-friendly, inclusive atmosphere. Its children’s workshop programme brings together young people and professional artists to explore techniques and materials and create a fantastic array of costumes, headdresses, instruments and beautiful structures, all of which will be displayed in the final celebratory procession.

Taste the World has become an increasingly popular feature of WOMAD festivals around the world since 2005, bringing artists performing at the festival to a designated ‘cookery’ stage to prepare and cook a traditional dish from their country of origin. These hosted sessions often include spontaneous moments of music and song with audience Q & A. What’s more, everyone gets to taste the final dish.

These encounters are a fascinating and intimate opportunity to enter into the world of the artist. Taste the World in Abu Dhabi will celebrate the rich culinary traditions, spices and ingredients of the Emirates and desert cultures, whilst bringing together a fascinating group of artists from Europe, Africa, India and UK to cook and share traditional dishes from around the world.

Note: Abdullah Chhadeh is one of the Arab world’s most innovative Qanun players. His work includes adaptations from the Syrian, Turkish, Azerbaijani and Andalusian traditions, as well as more surprising interpretations of western composers. Syriana, a trio with three distinct instrumental voices - Qanun, electric guitar and double bass - are influenced by 1960s TV themes, classical and folk songs, from London and Texas to downtown Damascus, and can only be described as a musical dialogue between the peoples of the Eastern and Western worlds. Syriana is about many levels of music and people, tradition and modernity, sound and identity, joy and sadness, but always with a wry smile on its face.

See also

Korean drum energy extravaganza, Dulsori (literally ‘heartbeat of the land’), formed in 1984 in Korea and ever since have not ceased to dazzle audiences around the world with their incredible raw percussion energy and interactive participatory performance style. Dulsori adds its own colour to the traditional Korean percussion play, Binari, which literally means ‘appealing the anxious heart to a supernatural being’, imitating the natural sound of rain and wind, thunder and lightning through powerful percussion play. It revives an ancient ritual that used to be held at the beginning of a festival celebrating the forces of nature. One of the world’s most enthralling performing troupes, Dulsori never fails to thrill and excite.

See also

Tunisian-born composer, vocalist, Oud player Dhafer Youssef opens the way to a new definition of East-West crossover. Dhafer’s music is rooted in the Sufi tradition and other mystical music but has always been wide open to ideas from any other musical culture as well as the jazz scene. With his poetic approach on the Oud, his complex Arab-coloured compositions and especially his deeply affecting singing, Dhafer Youssef is one of the most impressive voices to emerge in this musical field in many years. His music is a thrilling statement incorporating Arabic lyricism, rhythmic power, visionary strength, multi-cultural influences and jazz-oriented improvisation.

See also

Combining the rich nomadic cultures of the Tuareg and Wodaabe people from Niger, West African, Etran Finatawa blend traditional instruments with electric guitars, incorporating the distinctive vocal sounds, stiff-palmed clapping and drums of the Wodaabe people into modern arrangements, transporting you to the Sahara with their evocative sound. Incorporating unique traditional dances and tribal costumes, Etran Finatawa (literally meaning ‘stars of tradition’) perform songs in both the Tuareg (Tamasheck) and Wodaabe (Fulfulde) languages. Singing adaptations of traditional folksongs, Tuareg calls are met by Wodaabe responses. Even though they speak very different languages, the two musical traditions complement each other well, resulting in a highly innovative, unique and rich sound and performance.

See also

Described as masters of great atmosphere Paprika Balkanicus are becoming one of the hottest newcomers in World music. Magical Balkan and Eastern European acoustic violin and guitar sounds, this Slavic Trio’s performance is peppered with small jokes, asides and introductions enhancing the addictive charm of traditional tunes from Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and even some Russian. The group breaks down the barriers between performers and audience through inviting dancers onstage as the first few rows become dancing connected lines of groove. The resulting music travels like a spicy hot stew from a gypsy campfire through to a Slovakian wedding or a slow Russian dance.

See also

Rizwan and Muazzam Mujahid Ali Khan are the torchbearers of a tradition that goes back over 700 years, the tradition of Qawwali. An Arabic word that means ‘utterance’, Qawwali is the devotional music of the Sufis of Pakistan and India. Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali continue to transcend cultural, language and religious barriers and bring to the world the devotional but vibrant vocal music of the Sufi mystics of the Islam religion. Via rhythmic hand clapping, percussion and harmonium, they use music as a vehicle to enlightenment and achieve inner knowledge. Drawing on a rich vein of poetic imagery, their inventive reinterpretations of spiritual love songs based on classical Islamic and Sufi texts were first showcased in the UK, in July 1998, at the WOMAD Festival in Reading, and received much critical acclaim.

One of the most interesting singer-composers to come out of North Africa in recent years, Souad Massi’s music crosses over from Arabic to European, from jazz to rock, from folk to traditional. Her compositions, which prominently feature the acoustic guitar, display Western musical style influences such as Rock, Country or the Portuguese Fado but also incorporate oriental musical influences and oriental instruments like the Oud. She sings in Algerian Arabic, French, and occasionally English and Kabyle (Berber language), often employing multiple languages in the same song, creating rich, varied nuances, which shine with hypersensitivity and sincerity.

See also

A world-class, virtuoso percussionist, Trilok Gurtu was born into a highly musical family in Bombay, India. He began to play practically from infancy, influenced by the music of his grandfather, a noted Sitar player, and his mother Shobha Gurtu, a classical singing star. Trilok has travelled the world, touring with a number of highly respected artists including trumpeter Don Cherry (father of Neneh and Eagle Eye) and jazz group Oregon. World music has become an established genre in which Trilok has further “ploughed his own furrow” with his own group, to great effect, performing and recording with a range of musicians from a wide variety of musical genres.

See also

Founded in 1980 by former Genesis lead-singer Peter Gabriel, the first ever WOMAD festival was held in 1982 in the UK. Since the first event, WOMAD has worked with over 1,000 artists and staged more than 160 festivals in 27 countries including Australia, the US, New Zealand, Singapore and Italy, and can be credited with bringing the sounds of global cultures to the mainstream and introducing whole generations of people to the rich musical heritage of North and Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Pakistan, the Americas and the Far East.

For more information on WOMAD visit or

For more information on ADACH visit



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