Dubai At The Epicentre of Entertainment

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Ashir Gill
Ashir Gill

These talented individuals credit their success to the thriving culture of the city for enabling them to shine

By Ghazala Tikki Zaman and Tabassum Vally

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Published: Thu 23 Mar 2023, 12:11 PM

The year 2020 saw a big revival in the entertainment industry within Pakistan. We saw artists not only performing in their home country, but also bringing outstanding performances across the borders. The recent screening of the Pakistani movie ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt’ in the UAE drew huge audiences to the cinemas. Similarly, Dubai hosted the much loved Coke Studio where famous singers and musicians created a magical world.

Over the years, the UAE has evolved as a cultural hub in the region, attracting performing artists from all over the world. Pakistan is also leaving its imprints on the ever growing entertainment industry in the UAE as many young talents from Pakistan continue to enthrall their audiences across the emirates.

Striking a dialogue with music

When it comes to music, nothing stirs the soul as much as, the beat of a tabla. Pakistan has entered a new era of modernity in music while maintaining the allure of some of traditional instruments such as the tabla, sitar and harmonium.

In recent years, the UAE has held many musical evenings where the multi diverse communities have enjoyed enthralling music. Singers from the subcontinent often perform in UAE. The most recent events include performances by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam and the ever popular Coke Studio which attracted huge audiences.

Salman Qureshi
Salman Qureshi

Live music at special occasions and in busy Dubai restaurants and cafes are becoming very popular.

Ashir Gill, a young music enthusiast from Pakistan is a well-known name amongst the musicians in the UAE. Gill, came to Dubai in 2020, and ever since then has performed in many events. An ardent musician who is multi-talented has mesmerised his audience in many concerts, Gill is a master at playing the traditional tabla, an instrument that was popular in the Mughal courts, where it was played at the traditional Qawwali. The history of tabla dates back to early nineteenth century and over the years, musicians have preserved the art of playing this wonderful instrument.

Gill as a child was drawn to tabla and he started learning the instrument at the age of five. He was inspired by his teacher Ustad Nafees Irfan, who was a renowned tabla player in Pakistan. Gill wanted to play the tabla just like his mentor. Soon his talent was recognised and though he mastered the art of playing tabla, he also learnt to sing and play other instruments such as dholak and harmonium. He started performing at the age of nine and ever since then, he has appeared in many Pakistani television channels and music conferences. He speaks of his musical journey with much fondness and feels that Dubai provided him with many opportunities to perform amongst different communities. Gill has performed at the Dubai Heritage and Sharjah cultural heritage events. His skill at playing the tabla soon got recognition and his performances became much sought after. His performance at the Pakistani Consulate was enjoyed by all.

Gill often performs at a local restaurant Castello, attracting audience from different communities. Gill has performed in many other countries such as Thailand and Africa. He hopes to bring awareness for this instrument in different continents and he wishes to preserve, the art of playing this soul stirring instrument across the globe.

Laughter is the best medicine

The Courtyard Theatre is a common haunt for people who enjoy an evening of laughter and comic relief in their busy lives. Salman Qureshi, a renowned family standup comedian and actor who often performs at the Courtyard where people laugh and enjoy their evenings full of humor and comic. Qureshi also teaches the art of standup comedy to students at the theatre. It is no surprise that Qureshi, with his exceptional talent as a standup comedian has won the hearts of his audiences. Qureshi has many awards attributed to him during his almost 13 years of standup comedy. It is his remarkable talent that led to his nomination for the LA Factory USA’s ‘funniest person in the world’ competition. His performances have huge following in UAE, Oman, Pakistan and the US.

Qureshi received his university degree in Dubai and though raised in Jeddah, he has great affiliation for his home country and for its rich culture. A Pakistani by origin Qureshi has travelled globally bringing laughter, mirth and joy to his audiences. Qureshi started his career in 2009. He was inspired by a fellow Pakistani standup comedian Saad Haroon.Qureshi soon made his mark amongst his audience and his weekly comedy night known as ‘Dubai Laughing’ became popular and was much sought after. Qureshi also introduced many international comedians to Dubai.

“Since then, I have done my own specials and have my own great experiences of travelling and sharing the stage with icons like Boman Irani, Danish Ali, Ali Gul Pir, Shakeel from the subcontinent and also alongside international acts such as Maz Jobrani,Dean Edward and Godfrey, to name a few,” he said.

In 2020, when the world was grim with the challenges of the pandemic, Qureshi managed to bring respite by bringing his half hour standup special on ARY TV. In 2016, Qureshi conducted his stand up tour ‘The Expat Survival Guide’ and it was his humorous performance that won the show the title of being the ‘funniest show of the year’. In 2014 and 2015 he was nominated as the ‘Personality of the year’ at the Ahlan awards.

To keep his audience engrossed, amused and laughing is a skill Qureshi is gifted with and surely his third new comedy tour, ‘Specially Needy’ in May, will be just as successful and sought after as his previous events.

To narrate a sad story and to move an audience to tears perhaps is easier than presenting humour and making people laugh. Qureshi has a gift to make his audience happy and that is very special.


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