Armin van Buuren leads line-up for debut Untold Dubai festival

One of Europe's biggest entertainment events is coming to the UAE in February

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Trance DJ Armin van Buuren will join K-pop acts, regional singers and international stars at Untold Dubai in February.

Tickets for the three-day event go on sale on October 3. The full line-up will be revealed later this year and festival co-founder Edy Chereji expects 70,000 will attend each night.

In an exclusive interview with The National from Romania, where the original takes place, he reveals the UAE version will make full use of the sprawling grounds of Expo City Dubai.

“Some elements will be similar to our European festival in that it will feature big names and big artists performing on more than five stages,” he says.

“When it comes to the music formula, you can expect the biggest artists from different genres such as K-pop, techno and pop. And since we are in Dubai, there will also be well-known Arabic artists performing as well.”

One of those acts flying into Dubai is Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren, who gives The National confirmation that he will be part of the inaugural event.

“I think it will be the biggest festival to ever touch down on Dubai soil and the Expo site is a great location for it,” he says before his headlining performance at The Big Slap Festival in Sweden on Saturday.

“I played there before for a New Year’s Eve show, and it’s just a huge place. I think this festival is going to be a great thing for the electronic music scene.”

With more than 100 acts expected to perform, Chereji says independent artists from the UAE and Mena will also feature on the bill.

While the eclectic music will be sure to excite fans, he says that Untold Dubai aspires to be more than just a music festival.

Like the Romania event, held in the north-western city of Cluj-Napoca, Untold Dubai will be a family and cultural affair. Entrance will be open to all ages with plenty of non-musical activities also held on the Expo City Dubai site.

“One thing that will be there for sure is a street food festival and because of the number of food trucks and participants we are expecting, it may be one of the biggest food festivals in the UAE,” Chereji says.

“That aspect is important because the festival needs to be welcoming for all people, such as children, families and groups coming with their friends or colleagues after work.”

These lofty goals are born out of a proven track record. Since launching in 2015, Untold Festival has grown to become one of the biggest entertainment events of its kind in central Europe.

The eighth iteration of the festival, held from August 3 to 6, featured eight stages and 100,000 people attending daily.

Such is the stature of the event that Chereji says it has become a tourist drawcard for Romania.

“By getting visitors travelling into Romania from Western Europe we showed that we can build our own global brand and that was part of the reason why we came to Dubai,” he says.

“Dubai is one of the top tourism destinations in the world. We have an amazing site over there and by working with our stakeholders we hope to create something that will be the next big icon for Dubai and bring more tourists to this great city”.

Realising that ambition will take time, Chereji says Untold Dubai will not be a one-off event.

“Creating festivals is not like any other kind of business where you can make a profit in a year or two, you need to have vision, patience and humbleness,” he says.

“You need to invest a lot because you are not only bringing the artists, you are also building the site, the decorations and ultimately a great brand. So, this will be a long-term commitment.”

Untold Festival will take place at Expo City Dubai from February 15 to 18. Tickets and more information are available at

Updated: September 26, 2023, 10:10 AM