Five UAE comics to check out at the 2021 Dubai Comedy Festival

The event will feature both seasoned and new talent emerging from the country

Left to right: Eman Khallouf, Ali Al Sayed and Imah Dumagay are some of the UAE  comics performing as part of Dubai Comedy Festival. Courtesy: Dubai Comedy Festival
Left to right: Eman Khallouf, Ali Al Sayed and Imah Dumagay are some of the UAE  comics performing as part of Dubai Comedy Festival. Courtesy: Dubai Comedy Festival

The laughs are coming to the UAE this month.

After its successful debut in 2015, the Dubai Comedy Festival returns for its third iteration with 10 days of shows, starting on Thursday, and held in various locations across the city.

While it is tempting to see the big international names, such as US comics Eddie Griffin and Maz Jobrani, the festival will also shine a light on the vibrant UAE comedy scene with talents and styles reflecting the eclectic and multicultural nature of the region.

Here are five UAE comics to check out at the festival.

1. Ali Al Sayed

The elder statesman of UAE stand-up comedy, the Emirati performer has been leading the revival of the local scene, having performed residencies in Dubai since August 2020.

For nearly 15 years, he has blazed a pioneering path as a bilingual Emirati stand-up comic, instructor and event organiser.

When it came to be a comic, not only did he perform across Europe and the US, he also landed his own special on TV network Comedy Central with a 2017 set shot at The Square in Dubai.

Ali Al Sayed will perform at Arabic Stand Up on Wednesday, May 19, at 8.30pm at Dubai Opera; tickets start from Dh100 at dubaiopera.com

2. Mina Liccione

The former New Yorker has a storied career with acting roles in the Broadway run of Stomp and stand-up appearances in Comedy Central Presents.

With husband and fellow comic Al Sayed, she co-founded Dubomedy, the region’s first schools dedicated to comedy performance.

In 2017, Liccione filmed the one-hour special Mina Liccione: Araby by Nature, which screened on Comedy Central and OSN.

Mina Liccione will perform on Sunday, May 16 at 7.30pm at The Theatre, Mall of the Emirates; tickets start from Dh115 at dubaicomedyfest.ae

3. Eman Khallouf

As one of the first female comics performing in Arabic in the UAE, the Jordanian has performed more than 300 shows over the past eight years.

These included an appearance in the 2018 Montreux Comedy Festival in Switzerland, as well as a 2019 run of shows in Berlin, Germany.

Eman Khallouf will perform at Arabic Stand Up on May 19, at 8.30pm at Dubai Opera; tickets start from Dh100 at dubaiopera.com

4. Wissam El Chiekh Hasan

Celebrating his fifth year as a comic, Hasan built his Arabic stand-up career by performing in intimate coffee shops and theatres.

Born in the UAE, the Palestinian comic's sets are full of anecdotes of growing up as an Arab in the 1990s and the wisdom gleaned from being a father of four.

Wissam Kamal will perform at Arabic Stand Up on May 19, at 8.30pm at Dubai Opera; tickets start from Dh100 at dubaiopera.com

5. Imah Dumagay

A 2018 Dubomedy graduate, the Filipina talent hit the ground running and racked up an impressive array of English support slots, including for Indian stars Zakir Khan and Anshu Mor, as well as 2018’s One Africa Global Comedy Fest.

Dumagay will hit the Dubai Comedy Festival on the back of performing her second full-length solo show, The Shelarious Imah, at the Theatre in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates.

Imah Dumagay will make appearances at the Comedy Bizarre held at Street Diversions, Souk Madinat Jumeirah from May 13 to May 22, at 7pm; tickets start from Dh58 at ticketmasteruae.ae

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Updated: May 11, 2021 12:44 PM

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