Dubai Desert Rock Festival

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Dubai Desert Rock Festival
Dubai Desert Rock Fest
Location(s) Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Years active 2004–2009
Founded by Center Stage Management
Date(s) March
Genre Rock, Metal

The Dubai Desert Rock Festival was an event celebrating various styles of rock and metal music on one stage in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At the time, it was the only festival of its kind in the Middle East. As well as live music, extreme sports were also featured as crowd attractions. Dubai Desert Rock was originally a one-day festival, but it was expanded over two days in 2007 and 2008, before its eventual cancellation after the 2009 event.



Center Stage Management (CSM) embarked on a mission to develop and bring a fully fledged rock festival to the Middle East. The first annual Desert Rock Concert featured two rock bands, The Rasmus and Juliana Down. The headliner, Limp Bizkit cancelled their appearance 48 hours before the show, allegedly because frontman Fred Durst felt “unsafe” coming to the region. Despite the cancellation (10,000 tickets had been sold) some 3,500 fans attended.


Dubai Desert Rock developed into a full-day festival and featured well-known rock bands from around the world, including The Darkness, Machine Head, Sepultura and Within Temptation, who, together with two local rock bands – Juliana Down & Nervecell – played for an audience of more than 6,000 people. DDRF then became known internationally as The Middle East Annual Rock Festival.


Dubai Desert Rock showcased its most renowned line-up yet, consisting of Testament, Reel Big Fish, 3 Doors Down, Megadeth, and local Dubai band Mannikind. Due to a conflict between the UAE's moral codes and the lyrics of Saxon's "Crusader" the band was not allowed to participate in the festival. The gates opened at 3:00 PM, and the last performance ended at approximately 12:30 AM. The additional attractions to keep fans busy and entertained throughout the day included, among other things: a skatepark show, hair designers, temporary airbrush tattoo artists, graffiti boards for budding artists, customized cars inspired by MTV's hit TV show "Pimp My Ride", and numerous vendors.


For the 2007 installment of Dubai Desert Rock Festival the following bands performed:[1][2]

March 9:

March 10:


The year 2008 marked the festival's 5th anniversary and was the biggest rock festival to be held in Dubai to date. The festival was held in Dubai Festival City. There was a 50m suspended bar in the air as a world premiere.[3]

March 7:

March 8: /// Metallica///


Dubai Desert Rock Festival 2009 took place at Dubai Festival City on March 6. The event was a one-day affair (in contrast to the previous two editions) and focused on heavy metal, as depicted on the promotional posters and flyers. Opeth, Chimaira, Arch Enemy, August Burns Red and Nervecell performed, with Motörhead headlining.[6] Also chosen to perform were Hatred from Germany and Scarab from Egypt, who achieved inclusion by winning the 'United We Rock' and 'United We Rock - Middle East Edition' competitions respectively.

Line-up (2009):


In February 2010, the organisers of the Dubai Desert Rock Festival (Center Stage Management) announced that they were not going to be holding the festival, in an effort to 'extend the reach of the company'.

CSM's Managing Director, explained: “This decision was not taken lightly and was well thought-through with my team in my company’s best interests. It marks the beginning of a new era for CSM, a human-sized yet international entertainment-specialized company, which I’ve chosen to grow beyond UAE boundaries. I have focused uniquely on the Middle East in the past 10 years, which has positioned CSM to build a credible and reputable name; it’s now time to take it to another level. We’ve always taken pride in producing top-quality events which is why in order to develop my company in a professional manner (to equal its standards), we will focus on our international projects and artist management, until further notice”.[7]

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