Think of the United Arab Emirates and you might not immediately think of hip-hop, but in recent years Dubai has become home to a small and dedicated group of artists who rap in Arabic about the local culture.
Perhaps the biggest star is Mustafa Ismail, better known as “Frick”, a Somali rapper born and raised in the UAE. He has toured countries including the UK and performed at shows featuring Future, Gucci Mane and the Wu-Tang Clan.
“There is a culture here,” Ismail said. “There is so much to tell and people like me who grew up here want to hear the story of a kid who grew up in the UAE or Dubai. That’s what hip-hop is.”
In 2022, the scene received a boost with the launch of GXR Records, which features 14 artists from the UAE, including Freek, and RAPDXB, a playlisting and interviewing platform. RAPDXB recently released their first album featuring some of the UAE’s top rappers.
“The hip-hop scene in Dubai is growing,” Ismail said. “If you look at the hip-hop scene in Dubai 10 years ago and now, you will see a huge difference. It will even get crazier.”
Watch the video to learn more about hip hop in Dubai.