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"Dubai will never settle for anything less than first place." This quote from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and the Ruler of Dubai, along with the many other inspiring quotes from the leadership of the country, has kept Straight Up and Emirates Music Summit (EMS) Founder, Ali Al Dhiyebi, going and striving for success despite meeting unprecedented challenges since the inception of the business.

Within a short period and against the pandemic that disrupted nations, Straight Up has remained focused on its mission of placing the UAE on the world map as the number one destination for attracting, promoting, and retaining talent across music, entertainment, and fitness. Using unconventional models of growing their products and services to bring their vision to light, Straight Up is rapidly forming strategic partnerships across various industries to broaden the family, expertise, and support system, and see their mission through.

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Ali and his team seek to move away from the ordinary. "We don't want to be your regular talent or booking agency or event organizer," he explains. "We want to look beyond that. We want to give, with the various facilities, infrastructures and programs available in the UAE, an all-rounded package that supports and develops talent and grooms them locally, regionally, and internationally," he adds.

We don't want to be your regular talent or booking agency

Residents from all walks of life and backgrounds paid tribute to the UAE earlier this month as the country celebrated its 49th National Day. Emiratis and expatriates joined hands to praise the UAE’s wise leadership in guiding the nation through these difficult times and the advances made across all fields whilst promoting values of tolerance and peace for all communities, thereby becoming a model for other countries to emulate.

The leadership of the UAE reiterates the value of developing the youth. Stating that the UAE is everyone’s country as the door is open for all. They have also encouraged citizens and residents of the UAE to share their visions and help shape the future of the country by contributing to its success in designing the UAE’s 'Next 50' project.

EMS was born

In response to that call, the initial step to realize that dream of providing the definitive platform for homegrown and international players to gather, exchange and activate ideas, find solutions to pressing industry problems, and ultimately collaborate, Emirates Music Summit (EMS) was born.

Organized by Straight Up, EMS held its inaugural 'digital edition' on the 13th of March 2020, one day before the government ordered the cancellation of all live events in the UAE due to the pandemic. The second edition of EMS was held in collaboration with Breakout DXB on 6-7 Nov 2020 — a festival of music, art, and culture at Rove Downtown. This first live event of its size and nature since the pandemic was well welcomed by the creative community as a step in the right direction.

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EMS turned the lights out with its inaugural event and finally, turned the lights back on for music and entertainment and showed the world that "we can do it, we need it and we can operate it safely as we phase out of this pandemic." We are grateful to the UAE and its visionary leaders who spared no effort in ensuring that the UAE is the fastest country to recover leading to Emirates Airlines announcing Dubai’s multimillion-dollar campaign to tell the world that Dubai is open for business and tourism.

We make it happen

While opportunities in this industry seem endless and lucrative, at the heart of why Ali has built these platforms is the desire to give back to the country he calls home: the United Arab Emirates. To create a powerful movement that can be a successful model to be shared with the world in the years to come. The UAE is constantly broadening its capacity to create an infrastructure to facilitate all the elements necessary to make it work.

The plan is long-term. The inevitable success will have a domino effect for other industries including real estate, F&B, aviation, and more. The grander scope seems promising and something to look forward to.

Listen to the full interview below