RedfestDXB 2018: Will Craig David's next collaboration be with a local star?

The British singer, who will be returning for RedfestDXB 2018, says he loves to soak up Arabic music when he's in the Emirates

Craig David will perform at Redfest DXB in February
Craig David will perform at Redfest DXB in February

British singer Craig David has been coming to the UAE since the early 2000s. He recently performed during the Formula One weekend in Abu Dhabi and is set to appear in Dubai for RedfestDXB on February 9. Through the years, the 36-year-old says he hasn’t managed to pick up any Arabic but has gained an appreciation for Arabic music.

“The Arabic scales in music is one of the most amazing things … When I hear people singing — the scale, it hits notes that just you wouldn’t naturally go to,” he tells The National after his performance at one of the Yas Viceroy’s Formula One after-parties.

“Usually with music, I kind of know how things are done, how songs are created and I sort of know how it works,” he adds. “But when I hear the Arabic scales of songs and singers, I’m just like ‘Wow’".

"That’s definitely something I love to soak in when I’m here.”

The singer’s 2016 album, Following My Intuition, featured several collaborations, including with fellow UK acts grime MC Big Narstie and house duo Blonde. And just over a couple of weeks ago, David dropped I Know You, the latest single from his upcoming album on which he collaborated with the British indie band Bastille.

So, given the singer’s appreciation for Arabic music, could a collaboration with a regional musician be on the cards?

Definitely, he says. “There’s some artists here that would be wicked to work with.”

He is reluctant to name names but says he would want to team up with someone who people wouldn’t expect — like the Bastille collaboration — and “who is cool”.

“When I know [who] you’ll be the first person I let know,” he promises.

David's collaboration with Bastille came about after he met lead singer Dan Smith when they were both guests on a radio show in the UK and eventually they got into the studio together. And from there it was an easy process, he says.

"For [I Know You] to be the first song, the first recording session we did together, it's blown my mind. Because it's one of those songs that if me and Dan weren't even on the record and I heard it on the radio from someone else, I would be like 'Oooh, I wish I'd written that one'. And I don't say that for every single song … I've said that [about] like Fill Me In, 7 Days, Rise and Fall, it's [only] been a few tunes in my career."

David performed I Know You at his recent show in Abu Dhabi, which he says was a great opportunity for him to see if the song was working.


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And with multiple performances in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi now under his belt, which emirate does David prefer?

“18-year-old me would be boxed in, thinking ‘Oh I’ve got to pick’. But 36-year-old me doesn’t have to pick. I just say that I love both … there’s a different sort of colour in both of them,” he says, ever the diplomat.

One thing’s for sure though, for the singer, the highlight of any UAE trip is the food.

“The food just seems to be just on another level. I dunno, it’s just the way the spices and the culture … the pot is so pollinated with different cultures all mixed into one.”

“It feels like the food is tasting correct. Everywhere I’ve gone, every time I’ve come here, it’s like ‘Man, have you tasted this?’”

Craig David performs on February 9 at RedfestDXB 2018 at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Tickets are now on sale, Dh395 for single day tickets, and Dh695 for weekend access. For more, visit

Updated: December 19, 2017 02:08 PM


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