One of my goals since I have lived here is to see a concert in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai (or both!). Up until now, the timing hasn’t worked out. Either I find out about the concert too late, or the performer was playing on a date I couldn’t attend. So when I heard that Rihanna would be performing at the du Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 19th, I decided to get tickets.
I am not a huge Rihanna fan, but I do like several of her songs like Diamonds, Umbrella, Stay, and Love the Way You Lie. Not to mention, Kassandra was pretty excited about going. We booked the concert through a package with the Rotana Hotel, so it included a room, breakfast, shuttle for the event, and tickets.
I had heard that the music concerts here are all outdoors and without reserved seating or even seats for that matter. I was hoping the rumors were wrong, but they weren’t. Now I realize that during most concerts, people stand anyways; however, the option for being able to sit is always nice. We got to the venue at about 7:00 and Rihanna didn’t begin preforming until almost 10:00.
That’s a lot of standing in humid, hot weather. The other problem with this system is that people are constantly moving and trying to get a closer view. The one lady near us that dared to sit was almost stepped on at least a dozen times before giving up and standing with the rest of us. Also, there was no opening band as I am accustomed to in the States, but there was a DJ playing some music while we waited.
Despite the heat, the huge crowd (and inevitable sweaty smell that went with this combination) the long wait, the expensive drinks, and the lack of pre-entertainment, when the Rihanna came onto stage the audience was fully charged and full of energy.
To be honest, her first hour of songs were the more hip-hop style of her songs that I have never heard of. I think I spent more of my time people watching than listening to the music. However, her last 30 minutes of songs were ones that I am more familiar with, so this is when I started to enjoy it more.
Off and on throughout her performance, the bracelets that we had been given would glow blue (as you can see in my video above). This was a nice touch. It was pretty much the only surprise during the show. I was surprised at the lack of visual stimulation during the show. Now perhaps I am making an unfair comparison of performers like Lady Gaga that change clothing several times during the show and have props, but I was surprised that Rihanna didn’t even have costume changes. I caught myself wondering if her outfit was made out of special material. For as much as she was sweating (it was really hot), how she wasn’t sweating through her white material was mystifying me. I was dreading the controversy that would ensue if we had a wet t-shirt situation happen.
There was no wet t-shirt controversy, but Rihanna did cause an uproar later when she tweeted pictures of herself at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque posing in a way that was was considered immoral and inappropriate for a mosque. If you would like to read about the controversy, the link is here: News Article in the National
I am happy I went to the concert. I can check off one more thing from my to-do list of things I want to experience while living here. More than the performance itself, the people at the show made it a memorable evening. From the guy behind us trying to convince us to howl at the full moon, to the woman sitting on the ground that I felt like I had to guard from being tripped on, to the young Scottish girl waiting with us for the shuttle whose wit made me forget the long wait, to the group of Arab and Pakistani teenagers on the shuttle bus that were on a post-concert high and reminded me what it was like to be 17. Not to mention, it was one more moment in time that my daughter can look back on and remember sharing with me.