You live in Dubai, you love live music, you have absolutely no plans for the weekend – so listen up. Wasla, the region’s biggest Arabic alternative music festival, is returning this Friday for a third year in a row, taking over Burj Park in Downtown Dubai for a whopping 12 hours. But this is no ordinary music festival; named after the Arabic word for ‘bridge of a song’, it was launched by Arabs and Arabists who were “tired of the same image of yesterday’s palaces turning into rubble to the tune of fear and confusion, tired of the identity of ignorance and arrogance, tired too of the pastime of creative mediocrity”.
Wasla first set out on a mission to provide an alternative to said mediocrity, celebrating a language that is on the decline at an alarming rate and sharing the region’s talent not just with fellow Arabs, but the world. After all, music has no language. And music knows no borders.
This year’s edition promises so much more than just music – think: drum circles, pop-up concept stores, endless street food options, an introduction to traditional art forms such as talli and palm-weaving, an immersive experience by Abu Dhabi-based art community Blank Canvas, workshops centered around arabesque silhouettes and the Hamsa symbol, and the type of traditional board games that conjure images up images of cheeky old men hanging out in cafés. Can we confess though? We’re particular excited about the white-henna offering.
Entertainment aplenty continues in the form of performances by tannoura and dabke dancers before the likes of “experimental Oriental” trio Noon, Egyptian rock band Shaghaf, fusion band Redaround, and resident DJ Basil AlHadi bookend the festival.
But we digress, because what Wasla does best will kick off at 3 p.m. This year’s stellar line-up features Mashrou’ Leila (a Lebanese indie band that takes on tricky subjects through its anthems), 47Soul (a Jordanian-Palestinian electronic music group conquering the underground music scene), Cairokee (an Egyptian rock band that came to prominence with its revolutionary music), El Morabba3 (a Jordanian-Palestinian band rivaling the meaningful sounds of Mashrou’ Leila), and Massar Egbari (a Egyptian rock band known for its disruptive lyrics).
Is it Friday yet?
Find more details and buy your tickets here.