Bred Abu Dhabi 2024: What we learnt from the festival's opening day

The first day featured an all-regional line up of hip-hop artists

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With a batch of new festivals, Abu Dhabi is putting its stamp on the UAE events calendar this year.

These include the inaugural Saadiyat Nights concert series, featuring the likes of Sting and Mariah Carey, and the coming Abu Dhabi Comedy Week at Etihad Arena, headlined by the superstar comics Dave Chappelle and Andrew Schultz.

Establishing itself on the list is Bred Abu Dhabi, an annual hip-hop music and culture festival returning this week for its second iteration at Yas Bay. On Wednesday's opening night – the festival runs until Sunday – there were examples of maturity, progress and expansion, with welcome new additions.

Whereas last year’s inaugural event – the bumper lineup of artists included Big Sean, Dave East and Omar Suleiman – seemed scattershot, this year’s musical programme is more streamlined with artists having their own space and time to shine. With international musicians, such as Ty Dolla $ign and Don Toliver, performing from Thursday to Saturday, Bred Abu Dhabi is bookended with evenings dedicated to regional acts.

Performing on the smaller AMP Stage, Wednesday’s line-up showcased the breadth of talent in the region.

Emir Taha showed why he is one to watch, with his deft fusion of alternative RnB taking melodic cues from Turkish folk and hip-hop trap music. The recipe makes for some heady songs, like Huyu Suyu, which has his probing and velvety croon matched with stuttering drums and languid ambient synths. Kendine Gel is more straight-up RnB with its English verses culminating in tantalising hooks sung in Turkish.

Dubai's Ugly Moss also showcased his beefed-up approach to trap music. Backed by a DJ and electric guitarist, he delivered forceful takes on new track 3al hady and fan favourite El Sara7a.

Sudanese rapper Dafencii was also in fine and slightly manic form. Hard-hitting tracks such as the 2021 breakout single Rksha still blisters courtesy of his elastic flow that darts between Sudanese and Saudi dialects in pensive beats. The introspective El Maktoub, a song about handling disappointment, brings his lyricism to the forefront.

Through six hours of performances, the AMP Stage didn’t feel like a secondary attraction. Well positioned amid the food and fashion stalls, the audience and constant flow of visitors keep the space buzzing throughout the evening.

Here is what else to look out for at Bred Abu Dhabi.

A sprawling site

Nestled in a corner of Yas Bay and also accessible from the escalators from Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Bred Abu Dhabi is deceptively large and proudly represents its home city.

A stunning visual installation of the Abu Dhabi sign in Arabic working greets you at the front gate in what will be the festival’s selfie hotspot.

The site is seemingly split into three sections, with the AMP Stage and the main Arena Stage at the flanks. The heart of the site is a basketball and futsal court home to competitive matches featuring local sides. Fashion and merchandise stalls are dotted around the site, ensuring there is plenty to see.

Garnering a sizeable crowd on the opening day was Fovero, the street wear brand from Ramallah that is home to shirts featuring Palestinian embroidery. The Bhype Video Shop is also worth checking out, with its vintage selection of video titles like basketball comedy White Men Can’t Jump, gritty crime drama New Jack City and a couple of New Kids on the Block concert videos. A first edition of 1971 dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is also on the shelves.

Other stalls and pavilions in the festival include the UK's 5ivepillars, who have shirts and hoodies inspired by Islamic culture, and Chinese sports brand Anta.

New York pizzas and sandwiches

Foodies will have a lot to savour, with Bred Abu Dhabi featuring nearly 20 outlets, some of which are exclusive pop-ups.

Hailed by the New Yorker as one of the best pizzas in New York, Scarr's pizza is showcasing some of that pedigree. The superbly cheesy lemon pepper pizza slice and the Hot Boi that comes drizzled with spicy honey sauce (Dh45 each) are worth sampling.

New York-style deli sandwiches are also on offer at The Ocky Way. With American-Yemeni owner Rahim 'General Ock' Mohammed behind the grill, the joint serves hefty-sized chopped chicken and beef sandwiches loaded with cheese and fries. “This will put you to sleep, my man” says Rahim and it nearly does.

Who else is performing?

Bred Abu Dhabi continues throughout the weekend with UK rappers Aitch and AJ Tracey performing on Thursday, US rapper Offset and DJ Metro Boomin the following night, while Ty Dolla $ign and Don Toliver appear on Saturday.

Sunday's final night will feature an all-regional lineup of artists, including Palestinian American singer Lana Lubany and Morocco's Dystinct.

Bred Abu Dhabi runs until Sunday at Yas Bay. Tickets from Dh95 at

Updated: April 25, 2024, 7:57 AM