Dancers, singers and a Steve Vai cameo: Berklee Abu Dhabi opens its doors

Berklee Abu Dhabi marked its official opening with a series of vibrant performances on Saturday

World-renowned American music and performing arts college Berklee College of Music has opened its doors in the UAE.

Berklee Abu Dhabi launched with a series of vibrant performances, including an appearance by award-winning American music producer and guitar legend Steve Vai.

The 1979 Berklee College of Music graduate, who started playing with the legendary Frank Zappa and his band in 1980, is a three-time Grammy Award winner and one of the most well-known guitarists in the world.

Other notable alumni performed at the colourful opening, including Lebanese vocalist and songwriter Mayssa Karaa, Emmy-winning American composer Stephen Webber and Indian pop duo Shor Police.

Berklee Abu Dhabi was established in the UAE Pavilion building on Saadiyat Island and will deliver workshops, masterclasses, courses, ensembles and labs, as well as present a number of annual performances.

A $5 million (Dh18.4m) fellowship fund is available to students in the UAE, which will offer scholarships for students to pursue degrees in Boston, New York, Valencia or on Berklee Online, attend a summer programme in Boston or Valencia, or attend a programme in Abu Dhabi.

The facility spans 4,274 square metres and includes a performance space, recording studio, rehearsal studios, practise rooms, ensemble rooms, a tech lab and office space.


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