I feel it is time to come clean about how personally disappointed I am that Zayn Malik quit One Direction right before playing the United Arab Emirates.
In my mind, the major letdown here is that we are missing historic video footage of a Western-born Muslim celebrity performing for the first time in the Muslim World… in English — and this person was actually made famous outside of the Muslim world. If that is not unique — what is?
To me, as an archive lover, this performance by Zayn Malik in Dubai would have been beyond one-of-a-kind and into epic territory. Unfortunately, before I could write up that concert into the Muslim trivia record books, my dreams of Zayn in Dubai crashed and burned before my eyes within two weeks of the show.
As someone from a similar heritage background to Zayn Malik, I read too often in the English-speaking media how people of Muslim extraction are unsavory characters. For this reason, I always looked forward to reading about Zayn Malik’s life because he reminds me of people I know that are creative people living in England or America — that just so happen to also be of Muslim heritage.
When I learned about the Dubai show with Zayn Malik in October, I started thinking about how unique this combination was going to be. I wrote and re-wrote the article about the Dubai show with Zayn Malik in my head for most of winter.
With this in mind, I was a bit aghast when I read that Zayn Malik was quitting One Direction within a few weeks of playing the Dubai show — a date that had been planned for about a year.
Secretly, during those two weeks after Zayn Malik quit, I had hoped he would miraculously un-quit One Direction, jump on stage in the middle of the Dubai show, and play a final farewell — but that obviously did not happen.
At the show, One Direction played in Dubai on April 4 without Zayn Malik, fans posted on Twitter signs that they had made supporting Zayn Malik’s absence. They wrote directly on those signs that Zayn was always in their hearts.
The National U.A.E. stated the following about the One Direction show in Dubai.
“While all eyes were trained on the remaining four members, much thought was spared for the one who was missing. But while Malik’s vocal parts were tastefully divided up, and his existence carefully exorcised from all video projections, there was no elephant in the room.”
Allegedly, a fan held up a sign during that One Direction Dubai concert that said, “Are you and Zayn OK?” Liam Payne answered the sign holder directly on stage during the show and said on behalf of One Direction about Zayn Malik, “We are good, I can promise that.”
What does Zayn Malik have to say about things since that Dubai concert that he missed? On Instagram, Zayn Malik posted a picture of him with a friend that quoted Semisonic’s lyrics to “Closing Time” with, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Fingers crossed, Zayn Malik will one day make it up to One Direction fans in Dubai with a solo concert. In my opinion, that show in Dubai with Zayn Malik will only be complete if it includes my favorite longtime Dubai resident from London — 1960’s heartthrob, singer, and boy band forefather: Yusuf Islam A.K.A. Cat Stevens.
[All images from the referenced links]