Mother of the Nation Festival brings a diverse array of musical talent

From regional pop to hip-hop, the cultural festival had a lot to offer music lovers

Emirati singer Mohammed Al Shehhi performing on Friday at the Mother of The Nation Festival
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Local and regional music talent shone as part of the opening weekend of the Mother of The Nation Festival on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

With the third edition launching on Thursday  thousands gathered for the cultural festival where over a dozen acts performed over multiple stages with music styles ranging from Khaleeji pop to Arabic folk and hip-hop.

The biggest star of Friday night was Mohammed Al Shehhi.

The Ras Al Khaimah singer had the biggest crowd at the festival's main stage, located beachside beside the souq pavilion, as he and his near dozen strong band delivered a solid set full of favourites such as the rhythmic hits Hayati and Ya Helou.

Al Shehhi also used the event to perform his latest single Kharbat Ahwali, with its sturdy Khaleeji percussions and ear-worm chorus.

While Al Shehhi’s performance was attended by healthy number of families, it was the youth that was drawn to Sons of Yusuf.

The Kuwaiti hip-hop duo, made up of brothers Ya'koob and Abdul Rahmnan, continue to impress with each UAE tour. In addition to their string of regionalised takes of modern hip-hop staples, such as Arabs in Paris (their remix of a Jay Z and Kanye West 2011  hit tune), it was their original songs indicating they possess an intriguing voice of their own.

New single One Time is an evocative mix of classic era 90's rap laced with tumbling Khaleeji rhythms and oud riffs.

“This is where we want to go,” Ya’koob told The National backstage after their performance.

“We want to showcase our culture as not just Kuwaitis or young people from the gulf, but also as Arabs in that we are creative and we came come and contribute with our own sound.”

Abdul Rahman confirmed the group are presently working on their new album which should be out in the second half of the year.


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Also in Abu Dhabi over the weekend was Danny Aridi. The promising Lebanese Canadian singer-songwriter performed multiple sets at the festival on both Thursday and Friday. As well as clocking up some valuable stage time, the 25-year-old also showcased his latest song Who, which is another addition to his folk-pop body of work.

Indie-rock fans would have been pleased with the inclusion of Hayajan. The Jordanian five piece, led by soulful frontman Alaa Wardi, delivered fine set of original songs that ranged from the polished funk to broodier numbers.

The music continues on Saturday night with the Jordanian fusion group Harget Kart and Lebanese percussionist Daneel Sayegh.

Organised by the Department of Tourism and Culture Abu Dhabi, the festival will run until Saturday, March 31 at Abu Dhabi Corniche. For details visit