It’s time for our annual focus on the Middle East, where business is booming thanks to the ever-growing appetite for live events of all kinds. For some years now, the live professionals in the region have been explaining how the emergence of indoor performance spaces would change the region from a one-off tour stop, only affordable by the biggest artists, to a fully-fledged touring destination allowing artists to string together a dedicated tour.
Speaking to some of the most experienced players in the biz at the half-way mark of 2023 indicates that the region is almost there. Saudi Arabia in particular seems to follow in the footsteps of the UAE as the next big live entertainment destination. Check out the features and interviews below to get the lowdown on the state of business in the Middle East.
When we reached out to Thomas Ovesen for this feature he had just joined All Things Live, where he’ll run the company’s newly launched Middle East division. Teaming up with the European live entertainment powerhouse would make him “a much better partner for the touring artist, for the agents, and the tour promoters, and, indeed, for the fans here,” he said.
If you claim to be the “home of live entertainment” you have to be able to back it up. The team running Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai, managed by ASM Global, is doing just that. ASM Global’s Executive Vice President for the MENA Region, Iain Campbell, summed up the state of business: “We’re seeing very good ticket sales at the moment, a big desire for all the genres that we do throughout the Middle East. Putting a calendar together has still been a challenge, because I don’t need to tell you how buoyant our industry is at the moment.” He said the circuit was coming along: A couple of years, he thinks, and artists will be able to visit more than just one or two cities, and route a proper tour through the Middle East.
When we reached out to MDLBeast co-founder Talal Albahiti, Riyadh had jut been taken over by Gamers8, one of the world’s biggest gaming events, which resides in the Saudi capital until the end of August. MDLBeast is responsible for the entertainment surrounding the virtual extravaganza, as it has been for the past three editions.
Pollstar reached out to Shane Chalmers, CEO of Al Dana Amphitheater in Bahrain, one of the next big live events markets in the Middle Eastern region.
Pollstar’s annual Middle East Focus wouldn’t be complete without speaking to the team at Miral, the main curator of (live) experiences in Abu Dhabi, most of which take place on Yas Island, an entertainment district that houses the city’s main venues for entertainment, including its crown jewel Etihad Arena, theme parks, hotels and high-class hospitality businesses, a theme park, as well as the renowned Yas Marina Circuit, home of the F1 Grand Prix finals.