What’s On profiles the scene of rock music in Dubai and the UAE as we prepare for Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath in Abu Dhbai, at du Arena, Yas Island.

Black Sabbath interview

The UAE’s rock and metal scenes are at a crossroads. Traditionally well supported and vibrant, the alternative genre is facing a mounting challenge for the ears of the youth as catch-all popular music continues to do exactly what it says on the tin.

The local rock festivals of old drew some of the biggest names to the Emirates but it has been many years since the last weekend of headbanging in the desert. In the past year the UAE’s only dedicated rock music station, Rock FM, has been forced to close down due to a lack of support. How can the UAE turn it around? Enter Black Sabbath.

Rolling Stone magazine calls them ‘The Beatles of heavy metal’; a band who inspired literally millions to pick up a guitar and follow their new path. Bibby from local UAE metal band ANURYZM was one of them.

“I was over at my friend Nick’s house in 1990 or so and we were messing about with his Dad’s record collection and pulled out Black Sabbath’s self-titled album,” he explains. “At first we didn’t know what it was, but when we heard the sonic dual riffage of (Tony) Iommi with the signature slightly off tune sound and the creepy Ozzy (Osbourne) voice we were hooked. These guys are very influential, pioneers in their field.”

Two decades after they first broke on to the scene Black Sabbath were inspiring the UAE’s future rockers. Could the band’s arrival in Abu Dhabi this weekend breathe new life into the scene?

Jay Wud is firmly established as one of the local rock scene’s leading lights and although he claims to see some very small growth in the genre locally, he’s well aware of just how big an impact Ozzy and Co could have.

“It’s about time Black Sabbath came to this region, we need them to inspire the younger generation of musicians here,” he says. “This region needs a revolution in music.”

So with Black Sabbath arriving on May 29, there is real hope they are here as saviors of the local rock and metal scene.

“The UAE scene definitely has a stronger offering as far as the quality of bands in the upper echelons of music production and creativity when compared to other established markets,” Bibby adds.

There is more than hope for local music; there is talent and a lot of it. All it needs is the initial binding agent, some glue to bring it all together. Black Sabbath did it to the world in 1970; can their UAE date show the band to be as relevant and as necessary as they ever were?

Words provided by Flash Entertainment

May 29
Du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 9pm, Tel: (800) 86823. Taxi: Du Arena. ticketmaster.ae