The top 10 most famous people to have performed in the UAE
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The top 10 most famous people to have performed in the UAE

As Jay-Z confirms his attendance at the Abu Dhabi F1 later this year, we look at some other world famous stars who have previously wowed crowds across the UAE.

The top 10 most famous people to have performed in the UAE

The F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is no longer just about fast cars and the race - the track side and weekend long entertainment bill is now, arguably, becoming as popular as the race itself. The recent announcement that American rap star Jay-Z will headline this years F1 in November was met with jubilation by those eagerly awaiting confirmation of the final act of the weekend.

Jay-Z is scheduled to perform on Friday, November 1st, with English rock band Muse having already been confirmed for the following night. 1980s electronic music pioneers Depeche Mode will be the final act of the weekend at the race after-party on Sunday, November 3rd. The hype surrounding Jay-Z’s first performance in the UAE is understandably high, so we decided to look back at 10 famous musicians and bands that have rocked the stage here, including some memorable performances at previous F1 weekends.

1. Sir Paul McCartney

Rock legend and former Beatles superstar, Sir Paul McCartney played to great acclaim at the closing night of the 2011 F1 Grand Prix. McCartney is one of the most successful songwriters and performers of all time, and his status at the top of the musicians league is still evident in his continuous sell-out concerts worldwide. His performance at Abu Dhabi was no different and his set included his most famous solo songs, plus a number of Beatles tracks.

2. Prince

One of America’s most popular and successful artists, Prince performed many of his classic songs to an eager Abu Dhabi crowd. He headlined the Sunday night of the 2010 F1 weekend, reciting many of his famous tracks from the 80s and 90s. Prince also played a surprise VIP-only gig on the opening night of the Grand Prix, at Abu Dhabi’s Skybar, which helped to kick off the weekend in style.

3. Eminem

Having sold over 50 million albums worldwide, Eminem is firmly among the A-list stars of the American rap genre. After releasing three grammy award winning albums in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Eminem returned to the scene with a 2010 album, Recovery, which was named the best selling album of that year. He stormed the F1 stage in 2012, and his gig was made even more memorable in that he didn’t edit or censor his often controversial lyrics.

4. Beyonce

Beyonce first came to prominence as the young 16 year old lead singer of R&B group, Destiny’s Child. After a string of successful album and singles releases, the group split in 2005 and Beyonce launched a solo career. She has since sold over 15 million albums and is one of the world’s leading and most recognisable female artists. Beyonce became the first star to perform at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by opening the inaugural F1 weekend back in 2009.

5. Elton John

Having released over 30 albums and sold over 250 million records, Elton John is indisputably one of the most successful artists of all time. He was born in Middlesex, England, in 1947 and first began performing in the late 1960s. Elton John played the Emirates Palace in 2008 and was one of the first international superstars that appealed to a wider audience to perform in the UAE at that time.

6. Aerosmith

Often dubbed “America’s greatest Rock and Roll band,” Aerosmith were chosen to close the first F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend with a spellbinding headline performance on the Sunday evening in 2009. Aerosmith first formed in 1970 and signed to Columbia Records in 1972. They had a string of successful album releases during the 1970s. Two band members left during the 80s and were replaced, with a comeback launched in 1989. Subsequent albums have since cemented their status as true Rock and Roll legends.

7. Tom Jones

With one of the most memorable concerts of 2010, Welsh singer Tom Jones played to a capacity crowd at the newly opened Abu Dhabi Hall. Jones first began performing in the 1960s and has released a number of hit singles. He has sold in excess of 100 million records and claims to have played the most performances by any musician in Las Vegas.

8. Madonna

Pop music’s leading lady, Madonna came to the UAE in 2012 as part of her MDNA Tour. Writing and performing since the early 1980s, Madonna has released a number of award winning albums and has sold tens of millions of records throughout her 30 year career. Her concerts have often been criticised for their raunchy routines and use of religious imagery, which many felt may cause controversy in the UAE. As it turned out, the concert was well received and didn’t provoke too much ire from the authorities.

9. The Eagles

Formed in California in 1971, The Eagles are a four piece band that have had six number one albums. The Eagles hold the distinction of being the most successful American band of the 1970s, and they have sold in excess of 150 million albums worldwide, with 100 million sold in the US alone. Their Greatest Hits album has ranked among the top 20 best selling US albums of all time and they made their debut UAE performance at the Sevens Stadium in April, 2012.

10. Justin Bieber

Present day teen heartthrob Justin Bieber performed in Dubai in May of this year as part of his ‘Believe World Tour.’ Bieber released his first LP in 2009, My World, with each track individually making it onto the Billboard Top 100 list. His 2010 release, My World 2.0, went platinum in the US and made it to number 1 in numerous countries worldwide. His Dubai concert made headlines around the world after a fan stormed the stage and tried to grapple with the singer before being removed by security.


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