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Katy Perry

As Dubai’s weather cools, its live music scene heats up, with the 2015-2016 events calendar proving the emirate is now capable of attracting the world’s biggest pop acts

The world’s number one recording artist, Katy Perry, will make a welcome return to Dubai next month, but she’ll be performing at one of the emirate’s least likely concert venues – Dubai International Airport (DXB).

The ‘Firework’ star will be launching a revolutionary new initiative by Dubai Airports designed to only entertain the local crowd but more importantly, “connect the world through music”.

Dubbed ‘musicDXB’, the invitation-only pop-up concert will take place during the Dubai Airshow Gala Dinner hosted by Dubai Airports, Emirates and Dubai Duty Free on November 10, setting the stage for a series of upcoming live airport gigs.

Passengers passing through Dubai International will be treated to these live shows and fans who miss out on the action will be able to view the highlights through Dubai Airports’ social media platforms.

Perry’s set will include her international hits Hot & Cold, Dark Horse and Roar, to name a few.

She will pave the way for two pop-up concerts at Dubai Airport the following day (November 11) where Jack Pack, the finalists from the hugely popular ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ TV show will take to the stage, performing songs from their self-titled debut album.

Another US pop songstress, Kelly Rowland, has also been lined up to perform an impromptu airport gig, with more global names set to follow.

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths says musicDXB will not only entertain the 79 million passengers passing through Dubai International – the “world’s largest stage” – each year, but give local artists a global audience.

“We are thrilled to launch the programme with such high-profile superstars, but our goal is to also put the spotlight on up-and-coming talent from Dubai and the UAE,” he explains.

Dubai Airports has partnered with local event management and music promotion firm Done Events, which is managing the talent selection and production for the musicDXB airport concerts.

The firm, which earlier this year brought British boy band One Direction to perform in Dubai for the first time, has already kicked-off Dubai’s 2015-2016 live events season to great fanfare. Last month (September), Done Events thrilled audiences at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) with a performance from legendary Eighties outfit Spandau Ballet and this week will bring one of the UK’s most successful boy bands ever, Take That, to Dubai to perform two gigs. The first is expected to pack out Dubai Media City Amphitheatre to full capacity (14,000 fans) on October 30 while the second will be an intimate performance for just 200 lucky guests at the Hard Rock Café Dubai, on October 31.

The list of global pop and rock legends set to take to the stage in Dubai over the next few months is impressive.

UK acts heading for the desert this season include Scottish band Texas, Brit R&B singer-songwriter Craig David, nineties boy band Blue, DJ and presenter Tim Westwood, and Indie outfit Stereophonics while American hip hop and R&B DJ and record producer Jazzy Jeff is also performing a set at Dubai’s Barasti Bar at the end of this week.

On December 31, as the UAE welcomes in the new year, superstar French DJ and Dubai regular David Guetta will hit the decks at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre.

With big names on the billboard, Dubai is shaping up as a live events capital in its own right, but when you take into account Abu Dhabi’s hefty concert line-up this season, the UAE’s status as a global entertainment hub gains even more traction.

Global pop icons set to perform on Yas Island this year include 22-year-old chart-topper Ariana Grande, who will take to the stage at the du Arena on December 3 to mark the UAE’s 44th National Day festivities.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (November 27-29) promises an eclectic after-race concert line up to tantalise motorsport and music fans alike.

Singer, songwriter and actor, Enrique Iglesias, who is widely regarded as the King of Latin Pop, will kick off proceedings on November 27, followed by South London rock, pop and soul artist Florence + The Machine on November 28, and culminating with one of the most popular Brit Pop bands of all time, Blur, on November 29.

Event venues nationwide are reporting audience and traffic growth year-on-year as big names continue to pull in residents and tourists alike.

Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) reported 17% growth in the number of people attending leisure, entertainment and concert events at the venue in 2014.

The entity is now looking to attract new global shows to further improve its appeal and boost revenue, according to DWTC chief executive His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri.

“We have been broadening our calendar mix with more leisure-entertainment events that have yielded greater venue utilisation and limited seasonality swings,” he says.

DWTC is the Gulf region’s largest purpose-built events complex, but in order to bring in more business, the venue is currently being extended by an additional 15,000 square metres, taking its total multi-purpose indoor event and exhibition capacity to more than 122,000 square metres when works are completed in Q1, 2016.

“With the continued increase in demand for new shows, and year-on-year scale up of strategic events within the DWTC calendar, the planned flexible event space is expected to cater to the next five years of portfolio growth,” says Ahmad Alkhaja, senior vice president – venues, DWTC.