International Women's Day: Teenage Emirati singer Alya tells women to follow their dreams no matter what

Alya feels all women should showcase what they can do in light of ever-growing opportunities in the UAE

by Enid Grace Parker

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Published: Tue 7 Mar 2023, 2:43 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Mar 2023, 5:26 PM

Teenage Emirati singer-songwriter Alya Al Ali, who performs as Alya, has not only the UAE, but the world in her sights. Having auditioned for the global pop group Now United at the age of 15, she went on to kickstart a promising solo career, releasing her first single, Hung Up, in 2020.

Today she’s a seasoned and vibrant artist, a skilled vocalist and dancer who hopes to expand the reach of her artistry even further, a goal which given her talent and determination, should be easy to attain.

Alya grew up with strong musical influences in a multi-cultural Emirati-British family; her mother was a popular singer and performer in the UAE for many years and has been Alya’s inspiration throughout.

Currently pursuing a degree in performing arts, Alya still finds time to commit to live performances and is no stranger to the UAE stage. She will perform on March 8, International Women’s Day, at the Musivv Awards in Dubai, an event that pays tribute to local musical talent.

We caught up with Alya for a chat.

What first inspired your dreams of becoming a singer?

I have always been drawn to music. It’s been a part of my life since I can remember. Growing up in a household where music was always played, and my mother being a singer, definitely had an impact on me.

As someone who started her career at a young age, what were your family's reactions and how supportive were they of your decision?

My family was so supportive and have been through my whole journey of pursuing music. My number one supporter is my mother and I couldn’t have done it without her knowledge, guidance and support.

How has hailing from a multi-cultural background shaped your sound?

I have always listened to a variety of music, from jazz to R&B and even Arabic. Listening to all these different genres of music really helped me when writing music. I have released a few songs with a mix of Arabic and English, although I added a modern twist. Even though I come from a multi-cultural background I want to show that Emiratis can do R&B and pop music as well as pop icons such as Ariana Grande or Beyoncé.

What was the experience like of auditioning for Now United and how did it boost your future ambitions?

It was a great experience and taught me a lot as I had only just turned 15 so it definitely gave me a boost. It gained me an amazing following and really made me eager for more and made me want to work even harder to pursue my own music career.

What are your thoughts just before an on-stage live performance? Having stepped into the limelight at a young age, do you ever still get stage fright?

I absolutely love performing! I feel like I shine when I’m on stage; it’s my comfort zone and as I have gotten older I have found myself and understood how to be a great performer, with lots of practice and performances.

How important has the medium of social media been for you to share your talent with the world?

It has been one of the most important things. As much as I love the UAE, I want to share my music to the world and show what the new generations of Emiratis can do and become an international artist.

I think social media has changed the music industry for so many people - A-list artists and just normal people that want to share their talents on a platform and have the chance to let other people that love music hear their voice.

You enjoy dancing a lot as well; do you practice every day?

Yes, I’ve always loved dancing! It’s just something that came naturally to me. I practice everyday and I actually train with a top performing arts school from London in Dubai, called Urdang.

As someone who is still juggling academics and your passion for singing, how do you manage to strike a balance between the two?

My school is very understanding. As I am doing a BTEC in performing arts in school, they don’t mind when I have work opportunities as it benefits me and my work experience.

From your debut single Hung Up to your most recent single Love War, how has your sound evolved over the years?

It has definitely changed. I feel that my first single Hung Up was much sweeter and youthful but Love War is more mature and more my style now as I am 17 and was 15 around the time Hung Up came out.

Who are your influences from the world of music and your favourite bands/singers?

My absolute favourite singer and performer is Beyoncé. I think she is an insane talent and is an inspiration to women and what women are capable of.

Ahead of International Women's Day, as an Emirati singer, what are your thoughts on the opportunities available in the UAE for women to showcase their talents in art and culture?

I think that there are a lot more opportunities now than ever. I feel like all women should showcase what they can do and follow their dreams and aspirations no matter what.

What are your plans for International Women's Day?

I don’t have any specific plans yet but I will definitely be posting and praising all women around the world and making sure everyone is celebrating this important day.

Alya to perform at the Musivv Awards on March 8

The third edition of the Musivv awards, taking place March 8 at the Theatre of Digital Arts (TODA) will honour local musicians, including Emiratis, GCC Nationals and other residents. Among the nominees are Emirati artists Casa Vince and ABRI (pictured).

The event will be opened with a scintillating performance from Emirati teen pop singer and Musivv’s Ambassador, Alya, among other regional and international musical talents. This year's ceremony, which coincidentally takes place on Women's Day, will pay homage to women with its Female Artist of the Year award.

Enid Grace Parker

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