Discovering Wasla – Arabic Alternative Music Festival in Dubai – Fri 20 January

We are here with Kareem, one of the organisers of this amazing festival called Wasla, that will bring some of the biggest alternative Arabic music artists to be performing live, as part of this Arabic Alternative Music Festival at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, on Friday January 20th 2017.

Check out the schedule for Wasla!

Bringing some of the most exciting names from the Arabic alternative world together on one stage, the WASLA platform promises to showcase and grow talent from the vibrant emerging music scene across the Middle East and North Africa.

This is an incredible occasion in town to witness all the creativity that goes on in the Middle East.

Passaggio a Dubai: It is great that you are bringing this festival to Dubai, with a mix of artists that come from all over the Middle East. One from Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Dubai itself.

Kareem / Wasla: This city is a hub, it really gets people to lose their stereotypes, so people learn not to have judgments on others, because there is such a mixture. With regard to the bands’ provenience, the point is for them to match each other as little as possible. We wanted to give enough of variety, for the youth to sort of relate to the message is being send, and for the youth to see the possibility to invest in their own arts, in their own creativity. If they see Arabs give a beautiful performance, it can inspire them to go back to their garage and get together with their friends and start investing in their creativity.

Passaggio a Dubai: Which is something that may be missing in Dubai

Kareem / Wasla: It lacks the depth in a way.

Passaggio a Dubai: Can you please give us a presentation of the bands and the way they cross each other?

Kareem / Wasla: Sure! One of the headliners is Mashrou’ Leila. They are Lebanese, they are a very unique and experimental band, they use instruments but they combine them with some electronic synths, with their music, and the main perspective they share is an expression of being young in Lebanon, the politics that affect them, the judgement of the older generation that have a more conservative mindset, they are rebellious but at the same time they have a very melancholic, peaceful approach to their music and we think that the younger generation appreciate their style.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Souad Massi. She was a protest singer from Algeria, and sings of romance too, and what has always been very impressive about her as she rose to fame is her ability as a guitarist and to express herself with a sweet and kind voice.

We have also Neobyrd, he is an Egyptian electronic musician, record producer and House dj, he is 27 I believe. He’s got a very distinctive style – uses 80s synths wave sounds heavy beats so it’s always a good party and we’re closing the party with him so it’s gonna be an awesome party and we can close with positive energy.

We have also got Emel Mathlouthi from Tunisia, she is also a protest singer but she has a very new approach, combining heavy bass beats along with tabla and some oriental sounds, the oud and she has also been trained in opera so it is a very unique experience.

There is also JadaL, I love this band. They are Jordanian, they are a huge band and they are one of the first bands that played real rock in Arabic. Their first hit was called “I’m scared of commitment”, and they reflect the fact of being young and they comment on social issues too.

We have Salhi, the exceptional meeting between the percussionist Imed Alibi, the Sufi singer Mounir Troudi and jazz trumpetist Michel Marretist serves to create a new expression of Bedouin musical heritage, in particular the Salhi which brings together mysticism, poetry, atmospheres of party and trance.

Abri & The Funk Radius were nominated for MTV Europe’s Music Award for Best Middle East Act and they are Hamdan Al-Abri and J Wood and they are awesome.

Passaggio a Dubai: Do you see Dubai growing into a cultural hub in this sense for independent music?

Kareem / Wasla: Dubai and the UAE are having a boom in terms of cultural and artistic development, but I think there is still space. As a team we believe that it is a shame that these artists are recognised outside but they are not celebrated in their own home, and Dubai is the perfect central hub – there are Arabs of all sorts, from the UAE and Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, where else would be a better place.

Passaggio a Dubai: Do you think that people will come from other places for the festival?

Kareem / Wasla: We already know people are coming from other places. From Egypt, Lebanon, if it’s this powerful this time, the second time around will have an impact on tourism for Dubai, so we have a lot of hope.

Passaggio a Dubai: This is amazing.

Kareem / Wasla: And we have some of the best artists from Dubai , in collaboration with Sound Gaarden, and we are giving them the chance to share their art and we are purposefully having them play in between the acts on the main stage, so that the whole crowd gets the chance to experience their music, so for us and for them it is beneficial.

One of them are called The Losing Party: the lead guitarist is Emirati and the drummer is from Pakistan – instrumental, their own music and super powerful. I’m gonna be working but I’ll take a break to see them play.

In general, to conclude, we are really excited to bring a new depth to the music scene in Dubai.

Passaggio a Dubai: And we’re excited too, thank you Kareem, we can’t wait to be at Wasla.

Wasla Festival will take place at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on Fri 20 January. You can find the tickets at the door or on Virgin Megastore 

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