The Rolling Stones performing at the du Arena in Abu Dhabi. Lee Hoagland / The National
The Rolling Stones performing at the du Arena in Abu Dhabi. Lee Hoagland / The National

The Rolling Stones thrill Abu Dhabi



It was labelled as a new tour by the Rolling Stones, but their du Arena show last night was business as usual for the legendary rockers.

The band kicked off their latest jaunt in the capital with a two hour performance that may have lacked in surprises but packed with enough hits to keep both the faithful and first-timers happy. The concert also cemented du Arena as the region’s leading concert venue.

The Yas Island music hub has hosted many top stars but the Rolling Stones’ mammoth stage-set up was arguably one to be rivalled.

However, those used to extra space in the Fire Pit and Golden Circle areas of the arena received a rude shock; the combination of over 30,000 people and the 40 metre T-Shaped stage split both sections in two, cramming fans in on both sides.

Fortunately the stage was elevated to such a height that even the vertically challenged had a decent view of the wrinkly rockers.

Arriving on stage to the sound of tribal drumming, the Stones launched into Start Me Up for their opening number.

Frontman Mick Jagger was up for it. Dressed in a sparkly red jacket — the first of nearly half a dozen costume changes — the 70-year-old’s voice was in fine form as he delivered the lines with utter conviction.

The energy was maintained with the follow up, the stomping It’s Only Rock’n’roll.

The song was another demonstration of the band’s influence on the rockers who followed in their footsteps; when Jagger stretched the lyric “strange” in the opening verse it was hard not to think of Oasis singer Liam Gallagher who made this vocal technique his stock in trade.

The cobwebs were truly blown away with You Got Me Rocking.

Anchored by Charlie Watts’s powerful drumming, guitarist Keith Richards and Ronnie Woods locked onto a sturdy groove while a howling Jagger — supported by long-time backing vocalists Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler — delivered that memorable chorus that conquered stadiums for two decades.

The band then turned away from their primal rock sounds to explore some of their more musically adventurous material.

Tumbling Dice remains one of their most dynamic offerings, its magic lying in how that standard rhythm and blues riff majestically swells into emotional gospel refrains.

Brought back from a near thirty year retirement, the funk-inspired Emotional Rescue gave the crowd plenty of opportunity to practice their falsettos before the tempo died down with the stinging acoustic led ballad Angie.

Jagger remained a consummate frontman throughout the show. Ever so gracious, he kept peppering his banter with Arabic phrases such as “shukran jazeelan” (thank you very much) and “kaifa halek?” (how are you?).

The best moment was when he exercised his UAE knowledge by attempting to mention the seven emirates. Astonishingly the tongue twister Umm Al Qaiwain got a mention but Ajman was forgotten.

After a few more high points with the tetchy Paint It Black (the crowd singing the famed sitar parts) and the rollicking Honky Tonk Women, the set took a worryingly slow turn with Keith Richards taking the lead on the languorous bluesy numbers Slipping Away and Before They Make Me Run.

This was followed by an epic take of the evocative Midnight Rambler.

The performances remained strong throughout — particular Richards growly take on Before They Make Me Run — but sequenced together it represented a rather large chunk of the set where the pace remained too languid.

Another disappointing feature was the low-key welcome guitarist Mick Taylor received as part of the show.

The former Stone simply walked on stage to assist Richards on Slipping Away before really shining (and being properly introduced) during Midnight Rambler where he traded guitar licks with Jagger’s harmonica. It seemed a rather odd way to treat a special guest, particularly one that was responsible for many of the band’s best musical moments.

The set went back on track with Gimme Shelter (voted by fans online as the UAE’s favourite Rolling Stones song) and the set closer Jumpin’ Jack Flash with its riffs inspiring a mass of air guitars.

The two encores boasted Brown Sugar and the elegiac You Can’t Always Get What You Want, the choral accompaniment in the latter performed splendidly by the Abu Dhabi group The Al Khubairat Singers.

The band called it a night with I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, the crowd po-goed along with the hip-swivelling Jagger with the final notes triggering fireworks from the roof of the venue.

Not everyone would have been satisfied with the band’s set list. Some of the glaring omissions this time around included Get Off My Cloud, Ruby Tuesday and Wild Horses.

That said, The Rolling Stones’ Abu Dhabi show was a solid performance.

The 14 On Fire Tour may not be that different to their previous performances, but it remains another celebration of rock’n’roll by a revered band who fifty years on, are still showing us how it’s done.

Suggested picnic spots

Abu Dhabi
Umm Al Emarat Park
Yas Gateway Park
Delma Park
Al Bateen beach
Saadiyaat beach
The Corniche
Zayed Sports City
 
Dubai
Kite Beach
Zabeel Park
Al Nahda Pond Park
Mushrif Park
Safa Park
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Al Qudrah Lakes 

RESULTS

1.45pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,400m
Winner: Dirilis Ertugrul, Fabrice Veron (jockey), Ismail Mohammed (trainer)
2.15pm: Handicap Dh90,000 1,400m
Winner: Kidd Malibu, Sandro Paiva, Musabah Al Muhairi
2.45pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,000m
Winner: Raakezz, Tadhg O’Shea, Nicholas Bachalard
3.15pm: Handicap Dh105,000 1,200m
Winner: Au Couer, Sean Kirrane, Satish Seemar
3.45pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,600m
Winner: Rayig, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson
4.15pm: Handicap Dh105,000 1,600m
Winner: Chiefdom, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer
4.45pm: Handicap Dh80,000 1,800m
Winner: King’s Shadow, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar

Superliminal

Developer: Pillow Castle Games
Publisher: Pillow Castle Games
Console: PlayStation 4&5, Xbox Series One & X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Mica

Director: Ismael Ferroukhi

Stars: Zakaria Inan, Sabrina Ouazani

3 stars

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Leap of Faith

Michael J Mazarr

Public Affairs

Dh67
 

Most match wins on clay

Guillermo Vilas - 659

Manuel Orantes - 501

Thomas Muster - 422

Rafael Nadal - 399 *

Jose Higueras - 378

Eddie Dibbs - 370

Ilie Nastase - 338

Carlos Moya - 337

Ivan Lendl - 329

Andres Gomez - 322

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

What drives subscription retailing?

Once the domain of newspaper home deliveries, subscription model retailing has combined with e-commerce to permeate myriad products and services.

The concept has grown tremendously around the world and is forecast to thrive further, according to UnivDatos Market Insights’ report on recent and predicted trends in the sector.

The global subscription e-commerce market was valued at $13.2 billion (Dh48.5bn) in 2018. It is forecast to touch $478.2bn in 2025, and include the entertainment, fitness, food, cosmetics, baby care and fashion sectors.

The report says subscription-based services currently constitute “a small trend within e-commerce”. The US hosts almost 70 per cent of recurring plan firms, including leaders Dollar Shave Club, Hello Fresh and Netflix. Walmart and Sephora are among longer established retailers entering the space.

UnivDatos cites younger and affluent urbanites as prime subscription targets, with women currently the largest share of end-users.

That’s expected to remain unchanged until 2025, when women will represent a $246.6bn market share, owing to increasing numbers of start-ups targeting women.

Personal care and beauty occupy the largest chunk of the worldwide subscription e-commerce market, with changing lifestyles, work schedules, customisation and convenience among the chief future drivers.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside