DUBAI: For three nights from January 9-11, some of the biggest names in underground Arabic music will feature at the Middle East Music Event (MEME) at ZED Park in Sheikh Zayed City, organized by Nacelle for ZED’s property developer Ora.
With two stages and 20 bands, MEME will be one of the largest alternative-music events to take place in the region. Featured acts include established artists like Cairokee, Jadal, Dina El-Wedidi and Sharmoofers, critically acclaimed bands such as the genre-defying trio Lekhfa, as well as up-and-coming acts including Nubian pop act High Dam and rockers Almena.
“The focus is on the Middle East, so a big portion of the artists are from Egypt, Jordan and Palestine,” Nacelle’s Basem Abuarab, who is responsible for programming the event, told Arab News. “The bands are on different scales — from those with a huge following to attract the masses to new emerging sounds. We’re giving the opportunity to these emerging bands to perform in front of an audience of thousands, with the same production values as the big bands, so they can showcase what they’ve got.”
Other artists performing at the event include veteran Egyptian indie band Massar Egbari, Jordanian jazz-rock (‘razz’) fusion artist Aziz Maraka and his compatriots, grunge-rockers Akher Zapheer, indie-folk outfit Kahareb, hip-hop act Marwan Pablo, Palestinian rapper Shabjdeed, and rock band Ayloul.
Abuarab added that it was important to him to present a “diversity of sounds and genres — rock, folk, pop, trap, hip-hop… — as an attempt to present the current waves in the contemporary music scene all in one event.”
For Abuarab, events such as MEME are important because they give a platform for alternative artists and the potential to introduce their music to a new audience.
“I like the alternative scene because the mainstream is everywhere — it’s boring. To me, at least. Alternative helps me to think differently, explore and discover new horizons. I love working on it and being part of it, and sharing it with people so that maybe others can have a similar experience and discover new horizons, until it becomes mainstream too. Then we find a new alternative, and the cycle goes on.”