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21 May 2024

Are you ready to rock?

By Rachel McArthur



Dig out that old band T-shirt, because it’s that one time of year where practically everyone in the UAE, from students to wealthy businessmen, becomes a rock music fan and heads to the Dubai Desert Rock Festival.


Now in its fifth year, the two-day festival takes place on Friday and Saturday at Dubai Festival City. Organised by Centre Stage Management, it promises a predominantly heavy metal line-up, including performances by Korn, Machine Head and Killswitch Engage.


Perhaps the highlight, however, will be Velvet Revolver, starring Slash and Scott Weiland, but there will also be appearances by British megaband Muse, as well as the UAE’s very own Juliana Down and Nervecell.


This year’s event features a fire sculpture that will be lit and burning at all times. Then, organisers claim if you walk through it you will be cleansed. When you want to take a break, head to the country’s first suspended bar, 50 metres in the air and offering a 360-degree panoramic view from the counter.

On Friday: 




Who? American Grammy-winning nu-metal trio, comprised of vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer and bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu. They’ve sold 30 million albums worldwide.

For fans of: Disturbed, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit

Hits: Got The Life, Freak on a Leash

More info: www.korn.com


Machine Head


Who? American heavy metal band who earned a Grammy nomination last year. Six albums in, their line-up now features frontman Robert Flynn, Phil Demmel (guitar), Adam Duce (bass), Dave McClain (drums).

For fans of: Ill Niño, Soulfly

Hits: Davidian, Take My Scars, Halo

More info: www.machinehead1.com


Killswitch Engage


Who? Formed in 1999, the American metalcore band comprises vocalist Howard Jones, Mike D’Antonio (bass), guitarists Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz and Justin Foley (drums). They gained global acclaim in 2004, with The End of Heartache.

For fans of: Slipknot, Hatebreed, Mudvayne

Hits: The Arms of Sorrow, My Last Serenade
More info: www.killswitchengage.com 

As I Lay Dying


Who? As I Lay Dying was formed in 2001, with Tim Lambesis (vocals), Jordan Mancino (drums), Phil Sgrosso (guitar), Nick Hipa (guitar) and Josh Gilbert (bass).

For fans of: All That Remains

Hits: The Darkest Nights, The Sound of Truth, Nothing Left

More info: www.asilaydying.com



Who? One of the biggest Filippino rap-metal acts, it consists of frontman Jamir Garcia, guitarists Jerry Basco and Lean Ansing, bassist Lee Nadala and drummer Chi Evora. Their new album Novena showed their versatility.

For fans of: Rage Against The Machine, Korn

Hits: Wake Up, Agent Orange, Get Away

More info: www.slapshock.com




Who? Dubai-based death/thrash band Nervecell emerged in 2000. Following some changes in the band’s line-up, Nervecell is now Barney Ribeiro on guitar, vocalist Rajeh AKA James, and guitarist Rami.

For fans of:  War Face, Bloodbath

Hits: Human Chaos, Flesh and Memories, Demolition

More info: www.nervecell.net



On Saturday:



Who? British new prog rock band comprising Matt Bellamy (vocals, guitar and keyboards), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass guitar and keyboards) and Dominic Howard (drums and percussion). The band have been keen to perform in Dubai.

For fans of: Radiohead, Ash

Hits: Uno, Plug In Baby, Starlight

More info: www.muse.mu


Velvet Revolver


Who? Velvet Revolver comprises Guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Matt Sorum, vocalist Scott Weiland and guitarist Dave Kushner.

For fans of: Guns N’ Roses

Hits: Slither, Fall to Pieces

More info: www.velvetrevolver.com

Marky Ramone


Who? The drummer of The Ramones, who else? His tenure with the American punk rock band spanned 15 years and 11 albums. Now Marky tours the world with spoken-word gigs.

For fans of: The Ramones, The Misfits

Hits: I Wanna Be Sedated, Osaka Popstar Insects

More info: www.myspace.com/markyramone




Who? Melodic rock four-piece from South Africa, with a line-up comprising vocalist Pete Guthrie, guitarist John Reardon, bassist Colin Browne and drummer Elton Besson.

For fans of: Prime Circle

Hits: So I Wait, I See The World

More info: www.spoonfeedas.com


Juliana Down


Who? The UAE’s most famous rock act, featuring frontman Dia H, guitarist Ray H, bassist Sari R, drummer Abdul B and keyboardist Sol H, are regular on the circuit, having recently opened for Justin Timberlake.

For fans of: Muse, Coldplay, U2

Hits: Taste and Burn, Good for Nothing
More info: www.julianadown.com

- Dubai Desert Rock, Dubai Festival City - Doors open at 2pm; show starts at 3pm - One-day tickets cost Dh250; two-day passes cost Dh350. For more information, call 04 339 0550