Abu Dhabi is not only one of the largest emirates of the UAE, but is recognized as cradle of art and culture in the region. Abu Dhabi exchanges the cosmopolitan glamour of its sister emirates for a more laid-back, quintessentially Arabian feel, a great desert city shrouded by enigma.
The “Sounds of Arabia” Festival is one of the most prominent among a series of year-round cultural calendar events that serves to reinforce the city’s reputation as a hub of the arts. Spear-headed by the enterprising minds of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, the festival accomplishes the dual objective of building cultural bridges through musical talent while making the city that much more attractive to travellers stricken with wander-lust.
The festival is seen by music and classical connoisseurs the world over as one of the cornerstones of Arab’s artistic revival with special focus on the region’s diverse musical heritage. The festival is an international draw for the reigning maestros of Middle Eastern music as well as serving as platform to introduce new talent in a bid to pass on the torch to the newer generations.
The last festival was held over the course of nine days during the month of May this year. Focusing on the theme of the “future of Arabian classical music”, the festival saw 14 performances by Middle Eastern artists across the globe, from Palestine to Egypt to the Netherlands.
The events were headlined by some of the best-loved legends in the sphere of traditional Arabian music even while keeping the focus on emerging talent. Opening night saw the orchestral scores of music icon Said al Salem rising from the Emirates Palace, in collaboration with choral strains by renowned Tunisian musician Lofti Bouchnak. Syrian singer Sabah Fakhri also performed at the festival; the musician is known as the lynchpin maestro of the Tarab music sphere as well as for the legendary duration of his live shows which have been known to stretch on for as long as ten hours.
Egyptian singer Saleh also took to the stage with a tribute to his famous fellow countryman Mohammed Abdel Wahab, one of the best-loved performers of his nation. The Egyptian oud player Mustafa Said, the Lebanese star Ahmed Kaboor and Syrian clarinet player Kinan Al Azmeh were also among the glitterati who lit up the festival stage, along with singer Rima Khcheich and his Dutch group.
The festival reached its climax to the dual vocals of songstresses Waed Bouhassoun from Syria and Aicha Redouane from Morocco. It finally struck its ending notes with The Iranian Evening, which featured the percussive talents of Persian masters as well as concerts by Neyestan.
With the success of the Sounds of Arabia Festival growing exponentially each year, one can only wait with bated breath to see the kind of innovative spin the next one will display as it recreates the magic of the desert strains anew.
Those seeking well-reputed Abu Dhabi hotels to reserve their stays while enjoying Abu Dhabi’s wealth of cultural treasures are directed to the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. Located in the Empty Quarter of the emirate’s Liwa Desert, this is one of the Abu Dhabi luxury hotels that marries palatial comfort with the quintessential desert mystique.