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Ed Sheeran’s UAE shows tipped to make history

The singer-songwriter's upcoming dates in Dubai are expected to become the territory's best-selling concerts ever

By James Hanley on 08 Nov 2023

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran’s forthcoming Dubai concerts could become the best-selling shows in UAE history, according to All Things Live Middle East CEO Thomas Ovesen.

The British singer-songwriter brings his + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) Tour to The Sevens Stadium from 19-20 January 2024 in what are being called the largest open-air concerts ever to take place in Dubai.

The dates, which will see the 32-year-old perform “in the round”, will be Sheeran’s first in the Middle East since playing the city’s Autism Rocks Arena in November 2017, which attracted a sell-out 23,272 crowd.

“Not since 2017 has the Dubai market hosted such large scale outdoor concerts promoted on merits of ticket sales,” Ovesen tells IQ. “So it’s with great satisfaction we don’t just put on two Ed Sheeran concerts here in January, but again together with AEG Presents get to work with Ed and his management – this time showcasing his incredible 360° production for the first time in the Middle East.”

The events, which will feature support from Calum Scott, are backed by Dubai Calendar and Coca-Cola Arena, with tickets going on sale on Friday (9 November).

“It’s not only a massive event and achievement for Dubai, but one that hopefully reflects also a return to more large-scale outdoor shows”

“With a combined capacity of more than 60.000 tickets these shows could well break the record of the best-selling UAE concert ever. It’s not only a massive event and achievement for Dubai, but one that hopefully reflects also a return to more large-scale outdoor shows and an increased live entertainment offering in our market.”

European live entertainment group All Things Live launched in the Middle East earlier this year following successful collaborations with Ovesen’s TOP Entertainment. Ovesen had previously brought acts including Justin Bieber, The Eagles, Guns ‘N Roses, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John and Ed Sheeran to the region, and launched festivals such as RedFestDXB and Fiesta De Los Muertos.

The promoter’s recent highlights included a rare sell-out for last weekend’s Bryan Adams’ concert at Dubai’s 17,000-cap Coca-Cola Arena.

“I think the arena has had a few other sell-out shows this year including Hanz Zimmer and some Arabic and Indian artists,” Ovesen told IQ last month. “But the UAE is a relatively small market with less than 10 million residents and more than 200 nationalities, so it is hard to pick an event or artist that will pull from all the various communities and sell beyond 10,000 tickets.

“It’s rare that shows in the UAE sell out and, indeed, for large-scale shows in the few arenas here. So for an established touring artist who has visited the market many times in the past and played in smaller capacities, to completely sell out Coca-Cola Arena two months prior to the show date is unheard of. Our last sold-out show at the venue was with 50 Cent back in September 2022 and it only sold out the day before the show.”

The Mathematics Tour was the fifth highest-grossing worldwide in H1 2023

The Mathematics Tour was the fifth highest-grossing worldwide in Pollstar‘s H1 2023 rankings, selling just over one million tickets to earn $105.3 million. Back in June, Sheeran broke the attendance record at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium in the USA, pulling in 89,106 people to surpass the 88,491 fans drawn by U2 for their 360° Tour in 2011.

He also broke his own attendance record at Melbourne Cricket Ground in March by playing to more than 100,000 fans on consecutive nights, and New Zealand’s Sky Stadium, where he drew 48,000 fans. He also set a new ticket sales record in Denmark, shifting 160,000 tickets to four shows in the capital city of Copenhagen last year.

Sheeran, who will tour Asia and Europe in 2024, will also headline Rock in Rio Lisbon’s 20th anniversary edition, and is also slated to appear at other festivals including Lucca Summer Festival (Italy), Hurricane & Southside (Germany) and Stavernfestivalen (Norway).

His previous 255 show ÷ (Divide) run from 2017-19 was the highest-grossing tour ever before, generating $776.2 million, before being surpassed by Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour earlier this year. Sheeran is represented by Marty Diamond of Wasserman Music in North America and Jon Ollier of One Fiinix Live for the rest of the world.


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