Home Articles Metal in Dubai - Are people ready for it?

Metal in Dubai - Are people ready for it?

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Metal, a distinct flavor of music that has never lost its taste to the head bangers and metal heads, regardless of the commercial ''trends'' that have been injected in the mainstream. Metal is one of those rare genres that do not require a "trend" to get a following. Rather it is one of those fundamental pillars to the line of music itself that can never be altered to fit in ''commercialism''. Consider metal to be one of the commandments of the religion Music.

Desert Rock

Dubai Desert Rock Fest

            Like any other major city in the world, Dubai also hosts a following of metal. Metal heads of all races are widespread over the entire city. Small gigs are very common on weekends where the youth perform. The major metal attraction in Dubai is the infamous event "Desert Rock". The latest event hosted Iron Maiden; one of the metal giants, followed by Children of Bodom. Last year Megadeth played live and rocked the stage. I had a chance of going to the event and witnessing the setup. Brilliantly designed stage with the latest sound systems that could sustain high amplification, the placement of the lights, the stage was perfect. It was simply a haven for metal heads and the metal giants themselves playing onstage.

             Looking around in the community that governs universities, an estimate of about 80 percent of the people who listen or claim to listen to Metal do so for the sake of being "different". The rest of the 20 percent are either fans of hip hop or consider the genre as pure noise. Although I fail to understand the fact that why call an internationally accepted genre that has been alive ever since the rock revolution in the 70s, noise? Is it noise simply because bands do not show half naked chicks shaking their bodies with the vocalist taking out his grudge against society in his words? Or is it simply because "looking cool" is important. The fact that metal has guitars and a depressed feeling to it, that makes it a favorite genre to follow for people who abuse drugs or alcohol, even though there are people who actually do listen to metal for the sake of metal. Westerners settled in the United Arab Emirates have a far better insight towards "accepting" rock and metal as respectable genre rather than just considering them as junk.

             In the local scene the "infamous" bollywood music dominates the heads of the listeners. Hosting a largest population from the Indian subcontinent, majority of radio stations are "desi” oriented. The subcontinent has a large number of bands pursuing pure rock/metal. By pure I mean "neither copied nor ripped". Seldom do these stations play rock or metal from the subcontinent. Even if a rock track is played, it is either a straight rip off from some western band, or it’s too commercial to be termed as rock/metal. At the end of the day the major aim of these stations is after all "to make money”. A simple example is of 104.4 Awaz, a radio station that initially started from an underground promotion site for bands from all over the subcontinent. Based in Dubai they did get a lot of fame promoting bands. The team decided to launch a radio station to promote these bands on the radio, wanting to be pioneers in doing so. They launched themselves with a good campaign, but the underground rock/metal promotion lasted hardly for a month or so. After that it was Bollywood and commercial Pakistani music to get ratings. Seems the primary aim was just to attract underground listeners to get a kick start for sponsors.

On the other hand, Arabs surprisingly have an amazing taste for rock/metal. Ahmed AbadElla, 23, of Palestinian origin says, “Music is music, I do not dislike any genre. But you can not deny the fact that in the modern music world, rock/metal has a distinct edge over the rest of the genres. The reason being it’s simply made for the sake of music. Start going back to the legends. I do not see any artists other than Tupac who were purely dedicated to their genres. Bands like Rolling Stones, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rush and Guns & Roses are milestones and are still alive on MTV. I listen to Tupac. He does not totally mess up your mind with the street crap. But point out one modern rapper/hip hop artist who actually continued the spirit Tupac actually started. You won’t find any. I am sure. Everyone is in for the money in rap and hip hop. Agree or disagree, that’s another issue but the truth can not be denied.”

In conclusion to what I have stated above, Dubai being as one of the major developing cities of the world, could very well spawn a good metal following and attract a proper record label like Road Runner records to open up a regional office and sign up local bands. But the general public seldom seems to show a mature approach towards the genre. People who play rock and metal know exactly which genre is ever green and which will only go as the street goes. In all, Dubai officially hosts the largest metal/rock event in the Gulf, but I suppose the people are not ready for this genre even today. Let us just let them enjoy themselves in their rhythm and rock on.


Ali Gardezi