Eid celebrations promise great entertainment this year in the UAE

With Ramadan drawing to a close in the UAE, there are a number of performances and festivals to look forward to, including headlining music acts from around the globe.

Kelly Rowland, performing in Las Vegas on Saturday, is headed to the UAE for an Eid show in Dubai on Sunday.
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As well as the exchanges of goodwill and cheer, Eid also marks the return of live concerts after a short hiatus during Ramadan.

A slew of performances and festivals has been announced over the coming days and weeks in a range of musical styles, including Arabic pop, hip-hop, dance, rock, Hindi and Filipino pop.

The venues are equally eclectic, from nightclubs and jazz bars to the massive Meydan Racecourse and the picturesque Nasimi Beach at Atlantis the Palm.

The fun all kicks off tomorrow with the inaugural Shoppiesta festival. Held from August 31 to September 4 at Dubai's Meydan Racecourse, the event offers stalls and exhibitions showcasing the latest in electronics, home appliances, health and beauty brands. But for those more interested in sampling sounds than sales, the fair also offers a nightly concert series, each with a different musical theme.

The concept of mixing shopping with music is not a unique one, according to festival spokesman Radhesh Menon.

He explains that festivals similar to Shoppiesta have been held for decades in Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

"They have been going on for a long time in places like Brunei and India where they are called Melas, and they all incorporate live music," he says.

"Melas are all about making the event something for everyone, so it's not only shoppers coming here but music fans as well. It's definitely something for the whole family."

However, he says music artists playing in such fairs are carefully chosen to appeal to the most punters.

After a shaky start with the cancellations of the hip-hop star 50Cent and Bollywood icons Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal, Shoppiesta settled on an eclectic lineup. Headlining Arabic night tomorrow is Lebanese pop sensation Nancy Ajram. Powered by hits Sehr Ouyouno, Mashi Haddi and Fi Hagat, the 27-year-old singer has already sold more than 30 million records of her signature blend of world music, Arabic balladry and western pop.

For audiences who prefer their Arabic pop with an extra kick, Lebanese singer Melhem Zein, who rose to stardom by coming third in the inaugural series of the American Idol-inspired pan-Arabic competition Super Star, should deliver with his energetic performance.

Filipino night on Thursday will find the boy-band South Border and the all-girl group Mocha Girls singing their hits. Adding a touch of class on Friday is the Iranian songstress Googoosh, who continues to command a loyal following among young and old in Iran.

Indian night will boast separate performances by Bollywood singer Shankar Mahadevan, followed by Hariharan, who is renowned as one of the pioneers of the Indian fusion scene.

Those still smarting from 50Cent's cancellation should be soothed, however, with the triple bill of R&B star Kelly Rowland, dance-hall artist Sean Paul and rapper T-Pain slated for the festival's final night.

Menon says the trio will perform separately in one-hour slots with their own bands.

And although replacing the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor is a tall order for any Indian musician, Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Malaika Arora Khan should do a capable job finishing off the festivities by covering some of Bollywood's current hits as well as classics in Sunday's programme.

Another Arabic star celebrating Eid with fans is Wael Kfoury. The Lebanese singer, who made headlines in 1996 for suspending his successful career to rough it up as part of his mandatory military service, will perform his hits Omri Killo, Osset Oshaq, Bhinn and more at the Bustan Rotana on Thursday. Performing the following night is Rola Saad and Fares Karam.

Katrina Halili, the Filipina singer, actress and model seeking a comeback from a public scandal in her homeland last year, will give an intimate performance on Friday at Club 7 and Saturday at the Marco Polo Hotel.

The end of Ramadan also marks the reopening of some of the country's liveliest venues.

Those who have been missing dancing in the sands of Nasimi Beach now have two reasons to celebrate: with the return of a new instalment of the Sandance Festival and the inaugural dXb Beach Festival.

The September 30 beach festival, produced by Live Nation, boasts the likes of party stars LMFAO, former Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz and more than 20 DJs who will perform across three stages.

Live Nation Middle East director Tyler Mervyn says the event marks the company's 50th global festival.

He says that with the great weather and picturesque locations, the UAE is a perfect place to launch big music festivals.

"With the large number of European expatriates in the UAE who have grown up attending classic European festivals, we felt there was a void in this market," he says.

"Providing the option of three stages running simultaneously for 12 hours featuring a choice of 27 artists will allow a much broader musical experience than a 90-minute set by a band."

Regulars at Sandance concerts will not be surprised by the high calibre of musicians on offer. On October 14, dance heavy weights Sasha and David Morales will play alongside former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft, who will perform an acoustic set.

His friend and fellow Briton Liam Gallagher will also be gracing the UAE stage with his new band Beady Eye - set to play a storming set at Flash Forum on September 16.

Since the acrimonious split of Oasis, Gallagher wasted no time in assembling the new band, releasing the debut album Different Gear Still Speeding and touring Europe's biggest festivals. By the time his group hits the stage in Abu Dhabi, they should be a well-oiled machine.

Jazz fans are not left out of the mix either, with Dubai's The Fridge launching its new live season with acclaimed Swedish violinist Hugo Ticciati, who will be collaborating with UAE-based musicians and dancers during his recital on September 8.

R&B and hip-hop fans can also rejoice with Dubai club Chi@The Lodge hosting the smooth tones of Omarion on September 2 and energetic rapper Mann on September 9.

Trance fans still recovering from the marathon set by Armin van Buuuren at Flash Forum in June had better dust off their glow sticks for the arrival of his Dutch compatriot Ferry Corsten. He will be commanding the decks at the Dubai World Trade Centre on September 9.

And for the more mature set of music fans, those who pine for a time when songs didn't feature a thunderous riff or yapping rappers can relive the old times with Abba-tribute act Bjorn Again, who will set feet tapping at Abu Dhabi's Adnec on October 7.

But that's not all. Still to come: announcements for the Formula One Grand Prix concerts and the 2012 Yas Island Show Weekends. Which simply proves that there are plenty of live thrills on the way.