The UAE's Best Bands and Singers

Find out more about the artists from Dubai and Abu Dhabi up for Ahlan! Awards
BySarah Hedley HymersThursday , 09 October 2014
The UAE's Best Bands and Singers
© ©Thomas SAITO

Leading UAE music duo Hollaphonic introduce the talented artists you all shortlisted for this year’s coveted Ahlan! Awards, here is the lowdown!

Adam Baluch
Think Beardyman meets a 'one-man band' and has a lovechild with Luther Vandross and a loop pedal... Got that in your mind? OK, so Adam Baluch is still a relative unknown on the scemaline, but some of the best things are kept quiet until something like the Ahlan! Awards thrusts him into the limelight. We recommend nothing more than enjoying a set from this fella, an artist to watch above all.

Behold The Locus
Having been recently introduced to these guys, we discovered they combine superb songwriting with great energy. Taking inspiration from a vast back catalogue of rock music, they’re a heavily American-inspired outfit that always provides an emotive, head-nodding, foot-tapping classic with every track they release.

Desert Heat
Dubai's very own rap duo has been inspiring young hip-hop heads across the region for years. One of the first bands we connected with when we landed, these two Emirati dudes constantly push the envelope of regional culture, and blend their own style with a proud heritage. Having been working solidly in the studio for quite some time we expect their embryonic hits like Under Her Feet to challenge expectations.

Hamdan Al Abri
This man is in demand, and why wouldn’t he be when he’s worked tirelessly to become a leading light of the live music scene of his native Dubai. As much at home alone as he was with his eponymous band Abri, Hamdan has a tone to his voice that wraps around every song like silk floating on a chocolate sea.

Jay Wud
When one of the world’s leading brands grab your sound with both hands, you know you have something special. Maybe that’s what Red Bull saw when they took Key Opinion leader Jay Wud and pushed him further into the limelight. Never has someone looked more like a rock star and never has someone looked more comfortable with a guitar in his hands. A songwriting, producing, mixing magician, Jay is a major label’s dream.

Jet Lag
We love doing these awards because we get to discover new bands. Jet Lag is just that – a refreshing acoustic duo that has consistently impressed crowds across Dubai. Their range of covers showcase an astonishing amount of instrumental skill that keeps everyone buzzing into the wee hours.

Juliana Down
We know the level of focus and attitude it takes to truly own a stage and lead a movement, and these guys have it. Widely held as the original figurehead of mainstream rock in the region, JD has equally embraced electronic music. Immense vocals complement an aptitude for songwriting that would have many a pop producer blush. JD remains under the spotlight with an exciting future ahead.

Kevin Murphy
We once gave a guide vocal from Kevin to a pop star in the UK, who simply said: "I'm not going to even bother." Although Kevi's name is new to the ears of many, his is the vocal on Hollaphonic's Fabric, a track that was embraced by radio across the region. Kevin is now clearing a path as a solo artist, and we expect great things from him.

Malika Omar
A permanent part of the Dubai music scene, Malika Omar stuns listeneres with her classical-fusion tunes, a mixture the pianist has developed to perfection, giving audiences across the Emirates a modern insight into classical music.

You struggle to breathe at a Nervecell show, mainly because the sound is so huge that its removes the oxygen from the room. Don't be scared, these are lovely guys, but there's no doubt their passion for the morbid is unleashed with every drum note, filling you with the urge jump around madly!

A recently released album truly pushed Nikotin into Dubai with full force. Choosing to go upmarket by mixing at Soundstruck Studios shows just how committed these guys are to growing Nikotin into a household name; new music varies from epic rock ballads to a sound inspired by the Detroit indie scene. You can hear the band evolve each time they play – this is Nikotin's moment.

The Boxtones
The Boxtones are a small army of musicians that will play anywhere that will have them right now, but that's part of their plan. With their EP, In the Pockets of Clowns, they're determined to take their sound to the masses. Their male/female vocal dynamic lends a harmonious yet raspy vibe to some top-notch tracks.

The Recipe
These fellas concentrate as much on the production in their sound as they do on the content of their lyrics. They’ve been on the scene for a while, creating their niche. Embracing new technologies in recent months, expect their latest sounds to employ a funk attack. Widely known as the rapper's favourite rappers in Dubai, they take influences from a breadth of sounds.

Two Tone
This Moroccan master, raised in Holland, arrived in Dubai and made immediate waves – air waves, in fact, as his hit Senorita was blasted constantly on Virgin Radio. His style has evolved from R'n'B-influenced hip-hop into something that fits in the current charts, recently topping the UAE iTunes charts.

Vin Sinners
We are big fans of these guys; their album An Element of Surprise is stadium-filling rock music at its best, a true journey in every song. They embrace sound fusion with awesome vocals from Emirati singer Adel Farooq, which absolutely smash Return to Solace and leave you breathless in the presence of genius, while revelling in the energy that VS bring to the stage every time they perform.

Hollaphonic’s new album will be released in early 2015. For more info, follow them on Facebook, Twitter @hollaphonic and Instagram @hollaphotos, and listen to them at

Vote for your winner until 12 October here and you could win Dhs10,000!

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