Video: Why the Dubai Metro Music Festival is in tune with diversity

An eclectic group of 20 musicians from 17 countries – Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, France, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Syria and Emirates Arab Emirates – have banded together, sharing their musical talents and entertaining crowds at five Dubai Metro stations every day since March 16.

“The wide variety of talent and creative accomplishments showcased at the Dubai Metro Music Festival is a unique statement about Dubai’s diversity ethos,” said Shaima Al Suwaidi, City Branding Manager at Brand. Dubai, at Gulf News.

“We made sure to highlight diversity when we selected the musicians, because Dubai is a diverse city and we wanted to encourage them to come to Dubai and enjoy what the city has to offer.”

Shaima added, “It is also through the universal language of music that we want everyone in Dubai, who comes from diverse cultures, to connect with each other.”

There is no cultural barrier or need for translation as the musicians only use their instruments including violins, guitars, drums, cellos, saxophones and flutes. Some are traditional like the angklung (from Indonesia), the steelpan drum (from Trinidad and Tobago), the table (from India), in addition to their own vocal chords (beatbox) as well as instruments from recycled elements.

“We saw a lot of engagement from the public,” Shaima said, adding that “commuters – young and old, expats, tourists and locals – stop and gather around the performers. All take photos and videos with their smartphones, while some dance to the rhythm”.

Artists too are excited to use the platform to connect with the city’s cosmopolitan audience. Cuban musician Yuri Martinez, based in Dubai, said: “Dubai is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and it offers an ideal environment for musicians to thrive. Its cultural vibrancy gives artists a space to create and present their work to a grateful audience. We fill their hearts and souls with good music.

Justin Homer from Trinidad and Tobago said: “It always fills me with a sense of pride to perform on the steelpan, my national instrument, representing my country and my culture at an international event. People love dance or tap your feet to the rhythm.

Indian classical musician Sandeepan Sankarankutty, who wows crowds with his recitals on the tabla, said: “Playing music in a crowded place with a large number of people amidst other urban sounds allows both music and musicians to stay anchored and connected to the public”.

Filipino performer Neil Rey Garcia Llanes, who won third place in “Asia’s Got Talent Season 2” as a human beatboxer, said the music is both relaxing and energizing.

Organized by Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai’s media office, in partnership with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the Dubai Metro Music Festival was first launched in 2019. This year’s event is part of the ongoing #DubaiDestinations campaign which focuses on showcasing the exceptional experiences, events and activities of #DubaiArtSeason.

The music continues at five metro stations – Expo 2020, Jabal Ali, Mall of the Emirates, Burjuman and Union metro stations – from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. until Tuesday.

Gerald R. Schneider