Alicia Keys returns to the UAE for the first time in five years when her Set The World On Fire tour rolls into Media City on November 15. Ahead of the performance, What’s On caught up with the ‘Falling’ star to talk everything from motherhood to massages, and acting and empowerment.

This is only going to be your third performance in the Middle East. How are you feeling? I’m really excited about coming back, and about getting us all back together and connecting with everyone in the UAE again. It’s been five years since my last performance in the UAE, so I have so much more music now, which I cannot wait to share. It’s going to be great.

Why did you decide to add a Dubai date to your world tour? It’s important for me to continue to expand and express my music in every corner of the world that I can. I want to create more special connections and, obviously, it’s not easy for me to get over to that part of the world from America. My tour is taking me to Australia later, so I wanted to make sure I stopped off in Dubai while I had the chance. I’ve wanted to come back for a while.

Your tour is called the Set The World On Fire. Does that mean fans in the UAE can expect something extra, extra special on November 15? It’s going to be a true connection. It’s very empowering. It connects to you in all ways – visually, musically, emotionally. It takes you on a journey. It’s a ride that we all go on together. It’s the best show I’ve done yet, so I can’t wait to bring it to you.

You come across as quite a strong woman. Is that a persona, or is that who you really are? As people, we go through different phases. Overall I’m a strong-minded person – my mind and soul are both strong. So I would definitely call myself a strong woman. Like everyone, I have had times when I have been very down, but I have learnt to find a nice way to handle difficult times and that’s helped me a lot.

You’re a mum now to son Egypt. Has motherhood changed you? Yes, becoming a mother has changed my perspective a lot. It’s made me more grounded. I used to try to please everybody all of the time and I maybe believed what people were telling me a little too much, but now I know my first priority is my family and my son and making sure we have time together. And then everything else just falls into place.

Will your son be coming on tour with you? I’m still figuring that out. He has been with me on the majority of the tour so far and I absolutely love it. He’s right before school age, so he can be with me. It’s really special for us both, and also a fantastic experience for him.

Are you planning to have more children? I would love to – really, really love to. When the time is right, we definitely will. Probably just one more after that we’ll see.

As well as being a hugely successful singer, you’re also an actress. Have you plans to star in more films? I do. There are a few good ones that in the works. I also have a film coming out in October called The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister & Pete. I produced it and wrote the score, so I’m excited about it being released. Jennifer Hudson stars in it and it’s something I’m really proud of.

How do you manage to fit everything in? It’s a challenge. I’ve come to a better place of understanding now. I know what I enjoy and what I really want to do. I didn’t understand how to have a balance before. There is a lot of scheduling, but I’m enjoying myself a lot more now then I ever was before, and I know what direction I want to go in.

Do you think that’s because you’re older now? Yes, being more mature has definitely changed the way I see things and deal with things. Also, I have been doing this job for a little while now, so I have a lot more clarity on everything.

When you do get a rare break from work, what do you like to do? I love just being at home. It’s a novelty; it’s a beautiful feeling. I love reading, but having a baby has made it hard to read. I don’t get much chance with a three-year-old running around. I love learning new things and I love exercising, it gives me such great energy. I also really love discovering new music – that’s so fun.

You work hard, you deserve a treat. What’s your favourite indulgence? Massages. I just love massages. I recently discovered a four-hand massage – the synchronicity is just incredible. That’s a special treat, because four-handed massages are hard to find. But massages in general are definitely my number one indulgence. I do have quite a likeness for shoes too, but to be honest, my husband is actually worse with shoes that I am.

November 15
Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai
Tel: (04) 44390900. Metro: Nakheel.
9pm, Dhs295.