Links to useful open mic guides to Abu Dhabi:
Time Out Abu Dhabi is not exactly an open mic directory, but it does have this live music directory in bars and pubs and there you can skim around to see if there are any open mics or jams.
Brad Spurgeon’s findings on Open Mics in Abu Dhabi:
Someone had the bright idea to delay the only true open mic that I can find exists in Abu Dhabi for the second Saturday of November, when it always appears on the first Saturday of November. This is the open mic at the B-Lounge at the Sheraton Hotel, and the excuse for delaying it was that it is the Formula One Grand Prix weekend in Abu Dhabi. That, of course, was precisely the event that drew me to Abu Dhabi in the first place, and that permitted me to be present in a hotel across the street from the Sheraton and ready, willing and excited to take part in the open mic. Alas, they decided that racegoers do not, after all, want open mics. Anyway, aside from that failed opportunity, the Bait al Oud, or House of Oud, still exists, and that is open pretty much all the time, and it has pick-up jam sessions now and then. And there are plenty of expatriate bars and pubs throughout the city that have live music. The problem for musicians wishing to take part in open mics is that either Abu Dhabi or the United Arab Emirates, I have heard, have music taxation laws that do not promote the idea of an open stage. I have been unable to confirm this information beyond my original source, but what I have been told is that bars are obliged to pay a kind of entertainment tax for each band or other artist who takes to the stage – to the tune of something like 1000 dirhams. That instantly makes putting on an open mic a major expense, and somewhat impossible as a concept. Still, I know there are open mics here and there in the U.A.E., and so either bars are able to pay, to get around the tax or my information was incorrect. I felt it good to mention, though, as a way of spurring on dialogue, should anyone be able to find information on that fact that I cannot find. Ultimately, though, it would explain the lack of many open mics in the region – a region that is otherwise full of live music of every kind. Here in any case is my list:
Friday – Mood Indigo Bar, Mercure City Centre, Abu Dhabi · United Arab Emirates Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi City, +971 (0)2 633 3555. This is called a jazz jam, but it is actually open to most pop and blues and jazz and whatever you might feel might fit. Located in a bar on the first floor of the Mercure hotel, this might be to the last place you’d expect the mic to be open to guests, but bring your instrument and you might be surprised – but be prepared to play along with the band, the only way in Abu Dhabi that an open mic can really be open. Here is my report of playing in this joint, while staying in that joint, at the Mood Indigo Bar of the Mercure City Centre hotel in Abu Dhabi.
All Week – Bait al Oud/House of Oud, Alnhyan Camp, villa # 1 – Beit Al Oud, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, +971-02 415 699, email@example.com. Located behind the One-to-One hotel (look for the house with the oud design on its facade), it is not easy to find – just a house. But this is an institution devoted to the oud, the most popular lute/guitar-like instrument across the Middle East, this is a place where the make the instruments and teach people how to play them. There are loose jam sessions both amongst students and if you decide you want to organize one yourself. But attention: This is by no means a classic open mic or open jam session venue. It is very much a school and institution devoted to Arabic-style music, and it happens to be very open to other musicians. You can also sign up for lessons on the oud, or singing (or something else!). I have shown up twice, and ended up jamming with musicians present each time, both with my guitar and with an our. But it was very much luck and openness and happenstance. I suggest contacting them. Time Out Abu Dhabi has captured the spirit and style in at least two articles about the place, this one being the most interesting from the jamming standpoint. I also wrote about it once or twice, this one being about the first time I jammed at the House of Oud.
Open mics that have caught Brad’s eye, been recommended, or generally appear to be worth attending, but that Brad has not been able to attend for one reason or another:
Saturday – B-Lounge Sheraton Hotel, Corniche Road . P.O. Box 640 · Abu Dhabi · United Arab Emirates · Phone: (971-2) 677 3333 · Fax: (971-2) 672 5149. Attention: This event happens only on the first Saturday of each month. Unfortunately, the weekend that I was in Abu Dhabi was during the Formula One race, since I was there for the Formula One race and for open mics, but because of the Formula One race, they decided exceptionally to not hold the open mic night that night – delaying it for a week. Because it seems to be just about the only open mic night in Abu Dhabi it is very popular and it is therefore necessary to contact the organisers in advance to sign up for the waiting list. I’ve not played in this open mic, but I have been in the venue, and I can say the hotel is very comfortable, it’s a fabulous venue. Read all about the B-Lounge open mic in this local newspaper’s report.