Stop, collaborate and listen

Dubai isn’t known for bringing current or cutting edge music acts. It thrives on hosting concerts by musical acts from the 1980-90s or one hit wonders.

I’m a child of the 1980s, so don’t think I’m having a go at old music, but there are so many amazing musical acts that can be brought here, and it’s a shame when Dubai that tries to be a 21st century city at so many things continues to bring us musical acts that are not relevant and people continuing to attend these events instead of demanding better live acts.

So needless to say I was disappointed when it was recently announced that Vanilla Ice and Snap would be performing in Barasti at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi on 31st March. Vanilla Ice was a joke the first time round, so to have him come here to perform is almost embarrassing to admit. Snap I like - who can resist Oops Upside - but I can’t help wondering if it’s better to dance to a Snap tune in a club than seeing them live on stage. 

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Fast forward to yesterday when it was announced that the body of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (brother of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Abu Dhabi's ruler and the president of the United Arab Emirates) was recovered four days after his glider crashed in a lake in south of Rabat, Morocco.

So with this sad news, it was declared there’d be three days of official mourning. This means flags flying half-mast, sometimes it will be a day off work and normally no live entertainment like music, concerts, etc. So I assumed this gig wouldn't go ahead.

But we found out in the morning it was indeed happening, via Time Out Dubai and also via an SMS message.

 From http://www.timeoutdubai.com/knowledge/features/14478-uae-in-mourning.

From http://www.timeoutdubai.com/knowledge/features/14478-uae-in-mourning.

 SMS message: "STOP! COLLABORATE & LISTEN! VANILLA ICE AT BARASTI IS GOING AHEAD TONIGHT AS PLANNED. NORMAL OPERATION. WE ARE NOT DRY! NICE, NICE BABY! 5PM-3AM C U ON THE SAND"

SMS message: "STOP! COLLABORATE & LISTEN! VANILLA ICE AT BARASTI IS GOING AHEAD TONIGHT AS PLANNED. NORMAL OPERATION. WE ARE NOT DRY! NICE, NICE BABY! 5PM-3AM C U ON THE SAND"

The message is crass considering the country is in mourning and perhaps it would have been enough to say the concert is still on (if authorities gave the go ahead).

But this SMS alert led to an outrage on Twitter by a group I will refer to as the Dubai Twits, who love to feel self righteous and treat Twitter as a solution to everything. You want to complain or praise something or someone, do it on Twitter. You want to meet new people or make new friends, go to the many Tweet Ups that are organized here, you have a question, forget Google, just ask on Twitter, someone is bound to answer. Even to questions like what to have for dinner.

Now don’t think of me as a Twitter hater, I am quite active on it and like to use it to share and find new information. Some of these Dubai Twits are actually friends, so I’m not attacking people on Twitter, but how it's used makes me feel that something as useful and casual as Twitter can also easily be very irritating.

A few hours later Barasti announced the gig is cancelled, via Twitter and Facebook.

 From http://twitter.com/minaseyahi

From http://twitter.com/minaseyahi

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Low and behold, the Dubai Twits rejoiced and praised the power of Twitter – it was slightly off putting, especially since this town continues to contradict itself and is very inconsistent when it comes to policies under circumstances like today. There was no actual outrage that the gig was actually going ahead – it was the tasteless SMS message that led people to raise their concern. Such an easy target…

I don't want to get into the power of social media and how it should be used. But I can't help wonder why no anger at the authorities that approved the gig to go ahead despite mourning period, no anger at Etisalat who continue to spam it’s subscribers with marketing messages everyday without any filtering or segmentation and most importantly not allowing us to report abuse or unsubscribe.

Get angry at the fact that Dubai was willing to actually host a has been like Vanilla Ice in the first place and stop attending mediocre events because there's nothing better to do on a Wednesday night. Get angry that event organizers here don’t make an effort to bring us better live acts and are stuck in 1980-90s time warp.

But sarcasm aside, the incompetency and lack of proper communication by the decision makers and organisers feels like it's amateur hour and seeing people not channelling their anger on worthier issues disappoints me. 

You can say I’m am overreacting myself and I don’t want to sound like a snob. Everyone is free to attend and listen to whatever they want, and yes, even express it on Twitter. But what happened today felt like it could have been something out of The Onion. As a friend said to me earlier, "it’s not even 1st of April today".