The performing arts scene in Abu Dhabi has seen a transformation over the last few years and there is a continual programme of music, dance and theatre available in the city.

There is an emphasis in particular on live music. Traditionally the music you would hear in the UAE would be from the oud (a stringed instrument) which is sometimes combined with drum. You can still hear this type of music at Ramadan and also at some specialist Arabic music concerts. Other music events that take place in the city include classical, rock, jazz and pop music concerts. It is not unusual for hotel lobbies to feature a musician playing piano, harp or flute.  Many pubs and bars also have live music usually jazz or pop. Dance events include traditional cultural displays as well as classical ballet.

Theatrical shows can be for traditional works in Arabic and English performed by visiting professionals. The Club (aka The British Club) is often the location for modern plays.

For those wish to participate in musical events there are a number of groups in Abu Dhabi and these all put on concerts as well. These include choirs and barber-shop groups.

It is important to note that most performing arts events in the city are for one-night-only, so careful planning is required so as not to miss a concert.

There is an established annual jazz festival held mainly in Abu Dhabi hotels November.  Around the time of the Formula One there are many different musical events. Those on the beach are free for all while those on Yas Island are free for those with F1 tickets.

There is a regular classical music festival which takes place over the winter season. The Abu Dhabi Classics season can include performances from big international names such as the Berlin Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) established an annual free beach festival in Abu Dhabi in 2009. This usually takes place in April.


Concerts take place at different venues around the city, including schools and colleges, but the main venues are:

  • Emirates Palace Hotel
  • Cultural Foundation
  • National Theatre
  • Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre
  • The Club
  • Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain
  • One to One Hotel
  • Al Sahil Public Beach (Corniche)
  • Yas Island


Future Developments

Abu Dhabi has made a concerted effort to become an arts centre through the development of the cultural district on Saadiyat Island. This will include concert halls as well as exhibition centres for the Guggenheim and the Louvre.

How to find out more

Below are links to various internet resources to help you find out the latest events: