Dubai’s New WASLA Arabic Alternative Music Festival Line-Up Revealed

wasla-logoDubai, 24 November 2016: Some of the biggest alternative Arabic music artists will be performing live at the recently launched WASLA Arabic Alternative Music Festival at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on Friday January 20th 2017.

Bringing some of the most exciting names from the Arabic alternative world together on one stage, the WASLA platform promises to showcase and grow talent from the vibrant emerging music scene across the Middle East and North Africa.

Early Bird Tickets (AED 235) for the full-day festival will be released at the end of November through Official Ticketing Partner, Virgin Megastores across outlets in Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif City Centre, Dubai Mall, Al Wahda Mall, Arabian Ranches and Abu Dhabi Mall and online via Virgin Megastore Tickets.

Moustafa Abdelhamid, WASLA Marketing Director, said: “We are extremely excited to finally be able to announce the first WASLA music festival. We’re talking about some of the region’s best and budding artists from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria Tunisia and the UAE all under one roof, and what better place to do this than here? The festival day is set to be an unforgettable experience full of beautiful music and art. This is just the beginning, and we hope that WASLA will nurture and elevate these artists, establishing itself as a platform for the creative and performing arts, all the while celebrating our Arabic roots and culture.”

Combining the best in Alternative Middle Eastern music, art and entertainment to create an experience unlike any other in Dubai, WASLA festival goers are promised incredible beats, traditional Arabic street food and fun pop-up retail stalls.

Souad Massi
Algerian female singer Souad Massi has been gracing international stages with her exquisite singing voice and unique style born out of her youthful obsessions with western rock, folk, country music as well as the chaabi and classical Andalusian music of her native land.


Souad’s music pays homage to a time when the art of kalām or ‘discourse’ was valued. In medieval Spain, the wise men in the council of discourse were called the mutakallimoun – the scholars of debate – and each of the songs of Souad’s new album of the same name is an attempt to encapsulate their spirit of openness, intellect and tolerance in music.

Mashrou’ Leila
Born of a nocturnal encounter at the American University of Beirut in 2008, Mashrou’ Leila is a six-member band that fuses the craftiness of a music workshop with the punch of stadium rock. With their distinct approach to storytelling and orchestration, they have crafted some of the most melancholic ballads and raucous anthems in contemporary alternative Arabic music, and went on to perform them live at sold-out venues in Lebanon, Cairo, Amman, Istanbul, Dubai, Tunis, Paris, Amsterdam,Montreal, Geneva, Serbia and international festivals such as Byblos, Baalbeck, BabelMed, Paleo and Exit.

At times quirky and playful, at others bitter and somber, the songs demonstrate the band’s great versatility in dealing with musical form, narrative, and social issues.

Jadal is a Jordanian Rock Band, formed by composer, guitarist, and producer Mahmoud Radaideh in 2003. One of the first Arabic rock bands in the region, they started their journey by grabbing listener’s attention with their cover “Kol Ma Gool Al-Tobah” for the legendary Egyptian artist Abdel Halim Hafez in Jadal’s Arabic Rock style.

Known for their lively performances, Jadal’s music breaks boundaries, and challenges the music scene. Their diverse fans, both Rock and Arabic music fans prove that music isn’t biased to language or background.


The exceptional meeting between the percussionist Imed Alibi, the Sufi singer Mounir Troudi and jazz trumpetist Michel Marretist serves to create a new expression of Bedouin musical heritage, in particular the “Salhi” which brings together mysticism, poetry, atmospheres of party and trance.

Although considered folk, the Bedouin and Soufi songs made the heart of a country beat at a time when the free word was restricted. Taking risks is a recurring theme in Salhi’s music, to the inevitable delight of all those who listen.

Emel Mathlouthi
Emel Mathlouthi is a strident songstress born out of Tunisia, known for her stunning first album Kelmti Horra (my word is free) and solo performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. Named one of the top fifteen acts of 2015 by popmatters, Emel Mathlouthi has garnered lavish praise from critics and fans all over the world for her powerful vocals laid over a unique mix of North African rythms and modern electronic beats.

With a voice beyond comparison, Emel Mathlouthi’s unique artistry and powerful messages have truly made her an act to watch on the alternative scene.

Egyptian electronic musician and record producer NEOBYRD garnered mainstream recognition after two tracks from his first album “With You Again” and “My Sweet Heartless” were played on Egypt’s biggest radio station, Nile FM. He is also known for his remixes for Daft Punk, Four Tet, NEUS & Egyptian Legend Hany Shenouda and has gone on to release two Albums: Transbyrd 2011, The King Is Dead 2013.

His music video for ‘My Sweet Heartless’ was chosen as one of the top music videos of 2012 by Egyptian publication Ahram Online, winning in 2007, 3rd place and Special prize in a competition organized by ‘Ableton Live’.

Abri & The Funk Radius
Nominated for MTV Europe’s Music Award for Best Middle East Act, Hamdan Al-Abri is an Emirati singer/songwriter and one of the founders of Dubai-based soul band ABRI. One of the most well-known names on the UAE’s home-grown music scene, Hamdan Al-Abri has been recognized time and time again for his talent.

Playing music from a young age, he has already released two critically acclaimed albums and toured with legends such as Erykah Badu, Ziggy Marley, Arrested Development, Kanye West and Joss Stone.

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