We recently vibed with Akua Afram and her alter-ego DJ ARIES, the AfroFusion spin doctor who plays fresh parties and lush lounges from Ghana to Germany, the UK, and now her new home base, Dubai.
DJ ARIES has steadily built a name across her treks, rocking crowds from professional backgrounds to punters who enjoy a worldly taste of eclectic modern African music. You can catch her these days completing a residency at one of Dubai’s illest hotels, The Media One Hotel. Before this, DJ Aries was spinning at Arabian Skies in the Sofitel Hotel and also at the infamous Palm and JA Oceanview Hotel.
DJ Aries is not only a DJ but a global tastemaker who spreads her Ghana roots all over the dancefloor. Below, DJ Aries takes us on an spin through the city to check out what’s happening in Dubai.
Before moving here from London, I had the typical preconceptions about Dubai. The 5-star glitzy hotels, a very fake city where everything is man made with no history or culture.
Dubai is the middle gateway between Africa, Europe and the Far East. Though Dubai is known as the hustle and bustle of the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Abu Dhabi is in fact the capital and locals who are known as ‘Emiratis’ make up only 15% of the population.
Not many people know this. Both cities attract a lot of tourists and have an ever-expanding expat community, bringing fresh new talent and different perspectives to the region, making it another geographical and cultural cooker.
The number one motivator for expats moving out here is pretty black and white – the money (mostly tax free salary), the sunshine and a better quality of life. Those were my particular reasons…oh, and to pick up a bit of Arabic – shukran (thank you).
Living in Dubai is not easy as a single woman as you do come across all sorts but it’s a very fast city. One thing is for sure. They work people very hard here. Work you to the bone – so, if you’re a relaxed person – this is a no go for you.
However, there’s so much room for new opportunities since Dubai is still a new city and very much a transit city. People come in and out to travel, trade and do business. I’ve met so many people and it does take time to find the right people you connect with but a lot of people think Dubai is this glistening city with skyscrapers, beach clubs, shopping malls and Arabian conquests. There’s a lot more to that. And you’ll be surprised how open-minded people are. There’s a lot of cool, innovative creative collectives who are branding a new face of Dubai.
Dubai is rapidly becoming this new super cultural hub. I’m not talking about the museums and bus tours. More and more international artists are now performing in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The new Dubai Opera is due to open in 2016 and there are some really cool theatre festivals like Short + Sweet by DUCTAC.
I’ve also discovered quite a few quirky hubs available for eccentric, cool art enthusiasts. Places like Alserkal Avenue – an industrial creative space that’s very Hackney Wick (in East London, UK). There’s a cycling group called Fishtail Rides, who cycle around Al Quoz and other hidden gems of the city incorporating activities and events that create unique and tasteful experiences for every route. SOLD!
SOLEDXB, another creative collective supported by the Dubai Design District, is an urban platform showcasing enthusiasts in fashion, music, art and lifestyle. They do great stuff and have a platform for street culture in the Middle East.
If you want to get away from the mainstream, the district Al Quoz, located in central Dubai is the place for all-round aficionados of a sophisticated urban lifestyle.
This is a lifestyle that a lot of people are not exposed to, but curious about and which excitedly reminds me of home back in London, Shoreditch – cool, cultural and comprehensively creative with a cutting-edge Middle Eastern ambience. A niche and thriving pulse that is set to blossom for years to come. Goodbye Barasti… hello Al Quoz.
Although there are not many Ghanaians here, there are a lot of Nigerians. I urge my fellow people to travel. Trust me. It can can only do you good and open your mind. I’m still yet to explore this part of the world. I plan to touchdown next in Oman, Lebanon, Thailand, Japan and many more places.
Dubai definitely has a soul that not many people are familiar with. There’s so much more than meets the eye. I honestly recommend that you dig deep beneath the beach resorts, trendy bars, glitzy shopping malls and shiny skyscrapers.
Beyond the horizon, you can experience a beautiful, culturally diverse city with lots to offer for everyone.
Listen to one of our favorite mixes by DJ ARIES below: