Over 80,000 people attend three-day celebration of world music in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain
UAE. The first WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance) festival in the Middle East region brought to Abu Dhabi by ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage) drew to a close last night with a capacity crowd.
“We couldn't have asked for a more successful event. Every evening exceeded our expectations with cultures and people from around the globe joining together to celebrate world music.” Abdulla Salim Al Amri, Director of Culture and Arts Department, Abu Dhabi.
Following a successful strategic communications campaign, the festival welcomed high-capacity crowds from across the UAE.
“WOMAD’s programme was available all throughout Dubai, it’s been great.” Dutch national Jos Snoodjik from Dubai.
“I heard about WOMAD Abu Dhabi on the radio and then joined the Facebook group to get regular updates. The festival website was great as I got to hear music from the bands before coming down,” explained Surej, a student from Sharjah.
“There’s something here for everyone: children, Emiratis, and ex-pats. It’s the perfect event for Abu Dhabi, with people from so many different cultures in one place dancing and enjoying the music together. This is just what we needed,” said Mohammed from Abu Dhabi.
Thursday drew a crowd of 22,000 as the Algerian superstar, Khaled dazzled the crowd at the end of the first night on the Corniche. A special one-off show at Al Ain on Friday night attracted 5,000 people with Siyaya from Zimbabwe opening a magical night at Al Jahili Fort. The same evening The Dhol Foundation opened proceedings on the Corniche with a crowd of 26,000.
Yesterday, the final evening of performances opened with a procession by WOMAD Beyond, an educational outreach programme which has been visiting schools throughout Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
“The level of interest in participating in the workshops from everyone, old and young alike, both before and during the festival has been inspiring.” Annie Mentor, WOMAD Beyond Director.
There were many outstanding performances throughout the weekend, probably one of the most magical experiences of the entire festival was Robert Plant singing with the Abu Dhabi skyscrapers lighting the sky behind him. His magnetic presence, movement, and voice blended perfectly with Justin and Juldehs' Rock and African sounds” Isadora Papadrakakis, Performing Arts Advisor for ADACH.
The final evening drew the largest crowd of the weekend with 30,000 people enjoying ‘The King’ of Egypt, Mohamed Mounir, as he closed the festival to fireworks signaling the end of WOMAD Abu Dhabi for 2009.
“We’ve never experienced a WOMAD festival like this. There has been a true cross-section of society here during all three evenings. The multicultural aspect of the festival has been quite unique for us. We have been working in partnership with ADACH for 18 months and it has been a fantastic team effort to produce such a successful festival.
"We are already discussing next year’s WOMAD festival with ADACH," said Chris Smith, WOMAD Festival Director.