Mohamed Ramadan is returning to headline Dubai’s All Africa Festival

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Mohamed Ramadan will headline the All Africa Festival again.

After wowing more than 10,000 fans at last year’s inaugural event at Dubai’s Burj Park, the Egyptian actor and rapper will return for another high-energy set in October.

He will be joined by South African rapper Focalistic and Nigerian singer Dave — not to be confused with the UK grime artist of the same moniker — in what is the first batch of musicians exclusively revealed to The National.

Festival co-founder Nina Olatoke says the event will run from October 28 to 30, with the outdoor venue to be revealed soon.

The event will also be alcohol-free.

“That was an intentional decision because we saw how that allowed many people to come and enjoy the evening with their families,” Olatoke says.

“We want to welcome people from different backgrounds to come together to not only celebrate African culture, but to appreciate its influence around the world.

“We also want to create a safe space where people can come, eat, laugh and just enjoy themselves as well.”

Appreciating that atmosphere was Ramadan, who immediately jumped at the opportunity to return to the festival.

“The thing with Ramadan is that he is so big that he can do whatever he likes. The fact that he wants to come back to perform at this independent festival just shows you how supportive he is of what we are trying to do,” Olatoke says.

“He is from Egypt and because of his phenomenal success he has now become a cultural ambassador for the African continent.

“From last year onwards, he came on board and supported us throughout and it just shows that when you open the scope to what it is to be truly African you see more people wanting to be involved and that is a great thing.”

A vibrant cultural programme
Cultural discussions will also take place as part of the festival.

Running before the evening performances, movie screenings and panel sessions with filmmakers will take place at the Film Tent, located within the festival grounds.

Art exhibitions by regional and international African artists will also be on display in partnership with the Efie Gallery in Al Quoz.

One of the artists to make an appearance in Dubai is Boubou Niang.

The Senegalese visual artist has become an internet sensation and garnered celebrity fans, including Beyonce and The Rock, through powerful portraits of late celebrities Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman.

Olatoke also confirms a bevy of African restaurants will make pop-up appearances at the festival.

“People really enjoyed the food options and we will also step it up further,” she says.

“So this year we are going to have African UAE businesses on site bringing Afro-Caribbean cuisine with food from Nigeria and South Africa to Ethiopia and Egypt.”

Visitors can also expect Cuban cultural representation, as part of the festival’s newly launched Africa Sister Mission initiative.

Olatoke adds: “It’s about inviting countries with strong African heritage, like Cuba, to showcase that in various ways, including performances and being on the ground and engaging with people.”

The return of the All Africa Festival is not only owing to the success of its debut last year, but it also is part of a larger five-year strategy that will see the event get bigger and better.

“The end goal is to have a month where African culture is celebrated in the UAE with different events happening around Dubai,” Olatoke says.

“We want to make sure that the culture is celebrated in all of its entirety and that includes the important role the diaspora plays in the UAE and beyond.

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