The Six: Spoken word scene in the UAE

Spoken word forums. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 January 2019

The Six: Spoken word scene in the UAE

DUBAI: Spoken word has been gaining traction in the UAE, with more and more “open mic” events being hosted in different venues across the country. Some are attended by a big crowd; others are more intimate. Here is a selection.

Punch Poetry
Founded by award-winning Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck, this open-mic night in Dubai started in 2013, the same year Beck won a Backwaters Prize for her “To Live in Autumn” poetry collection about Beirut.

Rooftop Rhythms
One of the more popular groups, Rooftop Rhythms is based in Abu Dhabi, and was founded by poet and educator Dorian Paul Rogers. It promotes community-based arts and culture through its regular gatherings.

Blank Space
This open-mic platform in Dubai is hosted monthly at the Book Munch Cafe in one of the city’s busiest business districts. It attracts more than 120 people in an intimate creative gathering, where 25 people usually take the stage.

Dubai Poetics
This group focuses on empowering grassroots poetry and visual art through encouraging local artists to submit their works. It publishes curated art pieces online, which attract audiences across the region.

DXB Speakeasy
This was born out of the passion of three spoken-word artists, who teamed up to establish a poetry platform that promotes both writing and performing poems. Workshops are under way for artists who want to learn more about the craft.

Based in Abu Dhabi, Echoes hosts open mics at Shabby Chic, a local cafe in the UAE capital. Its goal is to “give voices” to new and budding talents, not only in poetry, but also in music.


Dubai denies there were plans for R. Kelly concert

Updated 41 min 37 sec ago

Dubai denies there were plans for R. Kelly concert

  • Dubai Media office said no venues were booked for R. Kelly
  • The singer was charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse in February

DUBAI: Dubai’s government on Sunday forcefully denied a claim by R&B singer R. Kelly that the artist had planned concerts in the country after he had sought permission from an Illinois judge to travel here despite facing sexual-abuse charges.
In a rare statement, the government’s Dubai Media Office also denied claims by his lawyer in court that Kelly had plans to meet the country’s ruling Al Maktoum family.
“Authorities in Dubai have not received any request for a performance by singer R. Kelly nor are there any venues that have been booked,” the statement said.
It added Kelly “has not been invited by the Dubai royal family for a performance.”
In an email to The Associated Press, Kelly’s lawyer Steven A. Greenberg responded saying: “Mr. Kelly had a signed contract with a legitimate promoter, and any information that was included in the motion to travel was from that contract. We did not say he was invited by the royal family, but the contract did provide that he would make himself available to meet with them.”
Kelly was charged on Feb. 22 with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse for allegedly assaulting three girls and one adult woman, coming after the release of a documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.” He has denied ever abusing anyone.
In a court filing last week, Greenberg had said the singer needed to raise money as “he has struggled of late to pay his child support and other child related expenses.”
“Before he was arrested Mr. Kelly had signed a contract to perform between 3-5 shows in Dubai, UAE, in April 2019,” the court filing read. “He requests permission to travel to Dubai for the shows. While there he is supposed to meet with the royal family.”
The filing did not elaborate on where Kelly was allegedly supposed to perform. There was no immediately publicized event for which Kelly was known to be a performer, nor did anyone in the entertainment industry hear about one.
However, Dubai’s luxury nightclubs often host hip hop and other artists for days at a time to perform and be seen among the millionaires of this skyscraper-studded city that is home to the world’s tallest building. Rich families also pay for celebrities at their parties.
The UAE’s seven emirates are overseen by hereditary rulers who hold absolute power. Dubai’s ruler is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 69. His 36-year-old son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, serves as Dubai’s crown prince and is next in line to be ruler.
Dubai, home to the world’s largest manmade archipelago the Palm Jumeriah and an indoor ski slope in its desert climes, has long drawn celebrities craving both luxury and seclusion. Will Smith is a repeated visitor. Lindsay Lohan lives off and on in the sheikhdom. David Beckham, Shah Rukh Khan and others are believed to own property in Dubai.
Yet it also has drawn world leaders seeking to escape their own countries. Pakistani Gen. Pervez Musharraf, facing criminal charges back home, fled to Dubai in 2016. Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came to Dubai to avoid a criminal conviction in 2017, following in the footsteps of her brother, the ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The US does not have an extradition treaty with the UAE. However, the US stations some 5,000 troops in the country and Dubai’s Jebel Ali port is the biggest port of call for the US Navy outside of America.