How Dubai musicians serenaded a moving crowd

The week-long Dubai Metro Music Festival, which kicked off on Wednesday, will feature performances by a talented group of musicians at five metro stations in the emirate until next Tuesday.

Local and international artists will perform musical pieces, spanning a wide range of genres, at metro stations like Expo 2020 Dubai, Jebel Ali, Mall of the Emirates, BurJuman and Union Metro Station.

Khaleej Times hit up some of the city’s metro stations to catch the acts. We started our journey at the Expo 2020 metro station at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. There, we met the Ecuadorian musician, Jose Luis Torres, delighted to perform at the festival. The crowd appreciated his act mainly for the large number of instruments he played during his performance.

His main instrument was the guitar and the Antara, a wind instrument, also known as Siku. The flute-shaped instrument bears a strong resemblance to the Andean panpipes and is commonly used in a musical genre known as Sikuri.

Commuters of all ages gathered around Torres, cheering him on while recording his performance on their mobiles. They were clearly moved by his act. “It was a perfect start for us after a long and tiring day at Expo 2020,” said a couple visiting the world’s fair with their children.

Such high-octane scenes were also seen at the other four subway stations. When we visited Jebel Ali metro station, we saw that a large crowd had already gathered to watch a performance by twin sisters Meera and Jeeda Hallak. The Syrian expats, who study at Deira International School, have been performing in the UAE for 12 years.

“Playing for a moving crowd – not just a stagnant crowd – is a challenge. We have to grab their attention in an instant so that they stop and listen to us,” Meera said.

Jeeda, who appreciated the encouragement from commuters, said: “Thank you all for cheering us up. The commuters were amazing. We received a very good response.

Soon after, we continued our journey to explore and find out the numbers of the Mall of the Emirates metro station. A crowd had already gathered there to listen to French musician Christophe Servas, who made musical instruments from recycled materials.

Some of his implements include a flute made out of an axe, a dresser brush, a drain pump, and a watering can! He also transformed a car rearview mirror into a mouth organ.

The station’s audience was surprised to find Servas on stage without any musical instrument in hand. And he puzzled them even more as he picked up an axe, a sump pump and a watering can. But he fascinated the crowd as soon as he started making music with strange instruments.

The video below shows the sound of the musical instruments built by the artist.

Mall of Emirates commuters were delighted with the performance. Karam Halake, who works at Al Barsha, was approaching the corridor of the station when he heard a commotion. He thought something bad had happened.

However, things became clear as he continued to walk towards the scene and the source of the noise. He could see happy faces all around him. “I saw people dancing to the music. It is a very good initiative for commuters before and after boarding the train,” Karam said.

We continued our journey to BurJuman metro station. Being one of the busiest metro stations in the city, it can be said that it was packed with commuters watching the performance. The station’s four artists were Keith Perena, Manshur Praditya, Anas AlHalabi and Monique. The scenario at Union subway station was similar to BurJuman station. Being an interchange station, hundreds of travelers stopped here to listen to music before continuing their journey.

Naveed Khan, a Pakistani expat working in Al Barsha enjoyed the performances after a busy day at work. “I started my journey from Jebel Ali subway station where there was music playing and when I reached Union Station to change platforms on the green line I saw yet another stage set up to entertain commuters. It’s a great initiative and really a stress reliever,” said Naveed.

The Dubai Metro Musical Festival will run until March 22, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The festival is part of the ongoing #DubaiDestinations campaign which focuses on showcasing the outstanding experiences, events and activities of #DubaiArtSeason.

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William N. Fernandez