Image courtesy of Matab Mashta

A Night Festival with Music and Art: Raul Midón and Alex Cuba Perform on Campus

A surprising night souk took place during Grammy nominated Raul Midón and Alex Cuba’s exceptional, first ever Latin Pop concert in the United Arab Emirates, turning the event into a small festival.

Nov 13, 2022

When fairy lights appeared above the path from John Sexton Square to the East Plaza, where a Raul Midón and Alex Cuba concert was set to take place a few days later on Nov. 3 as the first outdoor performance of this academic year, many New York University Abu Dhabi students wondered what the Arts Center had planned. The place was gradually decorated further in the following days with sets of tables, chairs, and tents lining up on both sides of the path. In the end, the space turned into an impromptu night souk where local jewelry artists, cosmetics producers and other artistic small business owners sold their crafts. In addition to the souk, carnival-like food stands opened underneath the tents and provided the concert’s audience with delicious snacks all throughout the performance.
The highlight of this mini-festival was the three performances that took place on the outdoor stage at the East Plaza. The concert was opened by the local indie artist Fafa, who performed piano renditions of her original compositions. With stripped back and raw instrumentals, the songs set the emotional tone of the entire evening. Alex Cuba, a Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter who earned a Grammy award for best Latin Pop Album in 2022, stepped on the stage with his acoustic guitar and contagious high spirit. His set varied between quiet romantic ballads and Latin jazz-pop songs that invited one to dance. In no time, he had the audience singing along to his music, fulfilling his dream, in his own words, to be a “true rockstar.”
After his set, Alex Cuba introduced a legend of Latin jazz and pop, Raul Midón, a two-time Grammy nominee and prominent producer and backing performer for singers like Shakira, Julio Igelsias and others. Midón performed an acoustic set of his own compositions, including some unreleased songs from his upcoming album. He showcased his exceptional ability to vocally imitate various instruments and shared anecdotes of his experiences undergoing the production process for his solo albums. In the end, his solid performance had the audience up on their feet. Alex Cuba then rejoined Raul Midón on stage, and the pair premiered their upcoming singles with a powerful live performance. They promised that this is only the first, and certainly not their last concert in the UAE.
By the end of the stage performances, the night souk was still full of life. All of the little shops were surrounded by small crowds of NYUAD students and faculty, as well as guests from outside of the community. The beautiful handcrafted products held much of the concert’s audience way past the scheduled end time of the event. Under the fairy lights, people shared their impressions of the incredible concert and supported the local businesses late into the night. The success of the concert and night souk has many hoping that future events will include the return of artisans and varied activities to campus.
Yana Peeva is Columns Editor. Email her at
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