5 Metro stations, 5 musical shows: How Dubai musicians serenaded a crowd on the move

From handpans to flutes made of axes, there was plenty to keep commuters entertained and coming back for more.

By SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 8:08 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Mar 2022, 8:18 PM

The Dubai Metro Musical Festival is back — and how. The week-long initiative kicked off on Wednesday, showcasing performances by talented local and international musicians across five Metro stations in the city.

Khaleej Times hit all five stations — from Expo 2020 Dubai, Jebel Ali and Mall of the Emirates to BurJuman and Union — to catch the acts. And we were not disappointed.

Our journey began on Wednesday at 4pm from the Expo 2020 Metro Station. There, we met Ecuadorian musician, Jose Luis Torres, who enthralled the crowd with the sheer number of instruments he used during his performance.

His main instruments were the guitar and the Antara, a wind instrument, also known as Siku. The flute-like instrument is much like the Andean Panpipe and it is commonly used is a musical genre known as Sikuri.

Commuters of all ages gathered around Torres, cheering him on while recording his performance on their mobiles. “It was a perfect send-off for us after a long, tiring day at the Expo 2020," said a couple visiting the world fair along with their kids.

Similar high-octane scenes were noted at the other four Metro stations. At our next stop, which was the Jebel Ali Metro Station, we saw a large crowd had already gathered to watch a performance by twin sisters Meera and Jeeda Hallak.

The Syrian expats study at Deira International School and have been performing in the UAE for the last 12 years.

“Playing for a crowd on the move — not just a stagnant one — is a challenge. We have to capture their attention in an instant to make them stop and listen to us,” said Meera.

Jeeda, who was grateful for the encouragement from commuters, said the public 'lifted [their] spirits'. “The commuters were amazing. We received a very good response.”

Bidding them farewell, we continued our journey. Next stop: Mall of the Emirates Metro Station.

By the time we arrived, a crowd had already gathered to listen to French musician Christophe Servas. We could tell he had his audience's attention, because - unlike his counterparts - Servas was performing with musical instruments made from highly unusual materials.

We're talking flutes made out of an axe, commode brush, drain pump, and a watering can! The creative artist had even transformed a rear-view mirror from a car into a mouth organ.

The air was thick with anticipation as the surprised crowd watched Servas take the stage without musical instruments in hand - at least, not conventional ones they were familiar with anyway.

As soon as he began making music with his strange-looking instruments though, they were spellbound. While some passersby stopped to watch, others pulled out their phones to record the show.

Here he is, gearing up to perform:

Commuters at the Mall of Emirates came away thrilled with the performances. Karam Halake, who works in Al Barsha, was approaching the corridor of the station when he heard a bit of a commotion. He thought something untoward had happened.

However, as he walked towards the stage and the source of the noise, he could see happy faces all around him. This was no cause for alarm - this was a welcome surprise that was sparking joy. “I saw people dancing to the music. It is a really good initiative for the commuters to enjoy before and after boarding the train,” he said.

Shortly after, we continued our journey towards BurJuman Metro Station. Being one of the busiest metro stations in the city, it was - as expected - packed with commuters watching the performances. The four performers at this station were Keith Perena, Manshur Praditya, Anas AlHalabi and Monique.

Here is Anas, talking about his instrument: the handpan, a relatively new way to make music.

The scenario at Union Metro Station was similar to BurJuman Station. Being an interchange station, hundreds of travellers stopped by to catch the live performances before carrying on with their journey.

Naveed Khan, a Pakistani expat working at Al Barsha, enjoyed the performances after a busy workday. “I started my journey from Jebel Ali Metro Station where there was music and when I reached Union Station to change to the Green Line platform, I saw yet another stage set up to entertain commuters. It's a great initiative and truly a stressbuster,” said Naveed.

The Dubai Metro Musical Festival will run until March 22, from 4pm to 10pm.

The festival is part of the ongoing #DubaiDestinations campaign, which focuses on highlighting the exceptional experiences, events, and activities of #DubaiArtSeason.


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