Following the success of the debut BRED Abu Dhabi festival presented by Hypebeast — the first-ever celebration of “neo-culture” in the city — we recap the five-day event that served as a display of energy, culture, and creativity.
Upon entering the grand BRED lettering, visitors were welcomed into the immersive HBX space. Housing a range of activations, from panel talks to film screenings, it also featured stalls hosted by Daily Paper, Filling Pieces, PLEASURES, KICKS CREW, and Mallet that stocked new season collections as well as festival exclusives. The Hypebeans pop-up café also debuted in the region, and served up limited-edition coffee flavors that included a pistachio latte and a charcoal sesame latte.
As well as a wall dedicated to the iconic OG Air Jordan 1 “Bred” colorway, an exhibition displayed some of the most sought-after collaborations in history, kindly contributed by collectors, including a signed Beyond the Streets x Futura skate deck, Supreme x RIMOWA suitcase, original Michael Jordan action figure, and many more.
From restauranteurs to fashion labels, a wide range of local, regional, and global artisans held pop-ups across the festival site. Saudi Arabia’s Crowdless launched Middle East Archive’s latest book, An Archive of Love, accompanied by an exhibit of some of the release’s most striking images, alongside a collection of the retailer’s lauded brands such as Story mfg. and 032c. Whilst South African streetwear imprint GRADE debuted the label in the region, bringing with it the spirit of the continent to the pop-up space.
BRED Abu Dhabi also facilitated cross-continental collabs, seeing Amongst Few x Paperboy Paris launching a range of T-shirts and accessories as well as a pastrami sandwich at the event. The rooftop of the collaborative space held an immense after-party that saw the likes of DJ Liutik spin tracks through the night on the final day of the festival.
Elsewhere across the vast site, sports competitions, dance battles, and even a Jack Daniels barber shop were dotted around for people to participate in. Whereas the dedicated gaming area involved a packed program of podcasts, VR experiences as well as F1 racing simulations during the five days. Art played a major role throughout the entirety of the festival. Boasting a “neo-gallery” which showcased regional and global artists including sculptors, photographers, and calligraphers — live murals were being painted on walls and benches with pens available for visitors to add their creative flair to a range of blank canvases.
To wrap up each day, a selection of artists hit one of three stages at the site. Omar Souleyman and DJ Jazzy Jeff opened up the festival at the VIP stage followed by a celebration of 50 years of hip-hop with Def Jam that saw 2 Chainz, Dave East and Armani White attend a panel talk at the Amp stage before performing for VIPs.
On Friday, Iraqi-Canadian artist Narcy took over the main stage with an upbeat performance played to the backdrop that featured eye-catching archival visuals of Western depictions of his heritage merged with cultural iconography whilst Ahmed Santa‘s unique flow has ushered in a new age for Egyptian rap, especially live. Headie One, on the other hand, proved that the UK music scene is thriving in the region just as it is back home, with tracks like “Know Better” and his latest hit “Martin’s Sofa” being well-received by the crowd. Swathes of fans flocked toward the stage for headliner 6LACK as the Grammy-nominated artist delivered a must-see performance filled with energy.
Whilst Giggs and Digga D continued to fly the flag for the UK over into Saturday with their unforgettable sets, it was Big Sean who stole the show with an exceptional performance, top-tier set design, and masterful stage presence – being one of the highlight sets of the festival.
Despite the final day being reserved for regional acts, the high-octane energy remained intact within the crowd as well as the artists. Lebanese El Rass, Palestinian The Synaptik, Morocco’s Tagne and Afroto from Egypt represented their respective countries on the main stage causing a storm throughout their sets, but it was Tunisia’s Balti that drew seas of fans reaching for their flags and balring out lyrics to some of his most popular tracks.
Check out the recap of the BRED Abu Dhabi festival presented by Hypebeast above. For more information on upcoming events, visit Brag World’s website.