Undeterred by the strong winds that gusted down the Abu Dhabi Corniche last night, thousands of people came to see the final evening’s performances of the WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2010.
The three-day festival, organized by Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) in collaboration with WOMAD UK (World of Music, Arts & Dance), presented more than 35 musical groups from around the world in a free to attend concerts on Abu Dhabi Corniche and Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain.
HE Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouie, Director General of ADACH said “though WOMAD Abu Dhabi is a new experiment but it has become in two years only an art mark throughout the Middle East and the world. The international media noted that UAE has surpassed the 20 countries hosting WOMAD. Abu Dhabi has succeeded throughout the festival in promoting music in the Arab region and has contributed to enhance the dialogue between different cultures.”
As the flags along the beach billowed, a stream of brightly colored models, flags and other creations were carried by children from Abu Dhabi schools who had taken part in the WOMAD Beyond workshops prior to the festival in the celebratory procession.
The night’s musical performances began on the South stage with the hypnotic rhythms of Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya. The focus switched to the North stage as Amparo Sanchez from Spain presented a beautiful mix of musical styles that perfectly merged the melancholy of the desert with a bright Cuban freshness. It was then the turn of Cape Verde’s Mayra Andrade to delight the audience with her soulful, beautiful voice, creating a rich atmosphere around the South stage that had the crowd singing along as she mesmerized the audience with her subtle sensitivity.
This was followed by a lively performance, created especially for WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2010, from the Zawose Family and Rango, who teamed up for a wonderful collaboration that mixed their two distinctive styles of desert music. The 22,000 strong audiences were then entertained by the unique music of Habib Koité as he sang of the challenges facing his Malian homeland and the African continent as a whole.
The attention returned to the North stage, where Tinariwen from Mali performed an inventive collaboration with Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe, from US band TV on the Radio and Algerian oud player Medhi Haddab, which combined hypnotic rolling bluesy rhythms with high-energy Arabic melodies. The festival was brought to a close in the same way it was opened three days previously, with a thunderous performance by the Drummers of Burundi, presenting their incredibly acrobatic leaping dances and explosive beats.
Chris Smith, WOMAD Festival Director said, “It has been another wonderful festival here in Abu Dhabi. After all the logistical challenges involved in ensuring it went ahead, it has been great to see so many people, from such a range of nationalities, come together, enjoying the spectacle of WOMAD in Abu Dhabi, once again. We are extremely grateful to the artists who have performed throughout the three days.”
Abdullah Al Amri, Director of Arts and Culture, ADACH, “Once again Abu Dhabi has played host to an incredible three days of music and performances from around the world. It has been very rewarding for ADACH to see so many people enjoying themselves, both here on the Abu Dhabi Corniche and at Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain.”
With over 125,000 people enjoyed the festival during the three days ( 110,000 in Abu Dhabi Corniche and 15,000 AT Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain) WOMAD Abu Dhabi has become a hugely popular event with the people of the UAE and has now firmly established itself as the biggest music event in the Middle East.
WOMAD Abu Dhabi will return again in April 2011.