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Saudi Arabia festival “turning point” for youth culture

Jeddah World Fest organiser Roqu Media International to put on festival for next three years, as Saudi’s entertainment industry continues to develop

By Anna Grace on 05 Aug 2019

Roqu Media puts on successful Jeddah World Fest

The 100 metre-long stage at Jeddah World Fest

image © Jeddah World Fest

Jeddah World Fest, the largest music festival to take place in Saudi Arabia, has been dubbed as “overwhelmingly successful” by organisers Roqu Media International.

The sold-out festival, which took place on 18 July, saw performances by 50 Cent, Janet Jackson, Chris Brown and Steve Aoki. Nicki Minaj, originally billed as a headliner for the event, pulled out a week before following pressure from human rights organisations.

The Ireland-based Roqu Media now has a contract to deliver the festival for the next three years. The media production company is also preparing similar events to take place in Russia, Georgia and South Africa.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Roqu president Robert Quirke says the Saudi festival was “overwhelmingly successful [but] extremely challenging given the local circumstances.”

“[Jeddah World Fest is] a turning point for all youth culturally”

According to Quirke, Jeddah World Fest is helping to change perceptions of the country, serving as a “turning point for all youth culturally”. The event, like all those produced by Roqu, was broadcast live on television in countries across the world.

The international live entertainment market in Saudi Arabia is still in relatively early days. Many acts have faced criticism for adding the country to their touring schedule due to human rights’ concerns.

The kingdom hosted its first-ever mixed gender music festival in December last year. Korean pop stars BTS will become the first international group to play a solo stadium concert in the country in October.

Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority has said it plans to spend US$64 billion on the sector over the next decade.


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