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Anghami unveils Dubai concert series Beat the Heat

Music streaming giant Anghami has announced details of new UAE indoor concert series Beat the Heat following its recent acquisition of Spotlight Events.

The seven-concert festival, organised by Dubai-headquartered Spotlight in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing – Dubai, launches this Saturday (16 July) with an alternative rap night headlined by Cairokee and Afroto. Tickets are priced 100-200 AED (€27-55).

Beat the Heat will continue each Saturday up to 27 August and will focus on a different musical genre each week. The series forms part of this year’s Dubai Summer Surprises, with all shows held at the Dubai World Trade Center’s 7,210-cap Sheikh Rashid Hall.

“Beat the Heat is about enriching music fans’ summer with live performances from top Arab talent in a unqiue setup”

“Beat the Heat is about enriching music fans’ summer with live performances from top Arab talent in a unique setup,” Anghami co-founder and CEO Eddy Maroun tells Arab News. “It’s also a celebration of the region’s vibrant music culture and a stage for top trending artists on Anghami to go on stage, perform and interact with their audiences offline.

“Anghami’s main purpose is to empower young Arab talent to create and connect with the world. Beat the Heat does just that by giving Arab voices and creators a platform to make some noise.”

Lebanon-based Anghami is the largest music streaming service in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and last year announced plans to open music venues in Dubai, Riyadh and several other Middle Eastern cities, as well as in the UK and North America.

It has installed Spotlight as its concerts arm to help unlock synergies and opportunities between the physical and digital worlds.

“We’re one step closer to becoming a fully integrated entertainment platform”

“By launching Beat the Heat in partnership with Dubai Tourism, our first live concert series since acquiring Spotlight Events, we’re one step closer to becoming a fully integrated entertainment platform and building our own unique category that other platforms can hardly replicate,” adds Maroun.

“We’re also strengthening our visibility and keeping Anghami top of mind by reaching audiences offline, complementing our digital experiences.”

Launched in 2005, Spotlight has six affiliate offices in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.

 


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Middle East agency receives major funding boost

The Middle East’s first female-founded entertainment agency is stepping up its expansion plans after confirming a multi-million dollar funding round led by Abbey Road Investment Group.

Dubai-based IAM Entertainment is looking to continue its growth across the region through live shows and talent management, as well as film and TV productions.

Co-founded by Sonal Vara-Parmar six years ago, IAM has worked with artists such as Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga and was also a partner for the Expo 2020 world fair, which featured concerts by superstars including Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay.

‘The second phase of our growth plan will see us cementing the region as one of the most desirable and commercially viable locations for movie and TV production,” adds Vara-Parmar. “Enabling a boost to the economy through building a new talent pool and job creation. IAM Entertainment has achieved significant success in the six years since we started but this is nothing compared to what we will achieve in the next five years.”

“This significant investment is crucial for our future growth strategy”

According to data analysts Magnitt, just 11% of Venture Capital funding in 2021 in the UAE, went to female founders.

“This significant investment is crucial for our future growth strategy,” says IAM COO Ash Parmar. “A priority for us as a company is being able to invest heavily in our live shows division, bringing never-before-seen, chart-topping, international artists to the region in order to showcase their talent to the region’s residents and tourists alike.”

Arjun Mittal, CEO of Abbey Road Investment Group, adds: “IAM Entertainment has been on our radar for many years, and this has been an incredible growth story. We were delighted to be able to partner with IAM to create even bigger waves in the entertainment industry in the region.”

 


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Christina Aguilera to close Expo 2020 Dubai

Christina Aguilera is to headline the closing ceremony of Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Middle East’s first world’s fair, Expo 2020 was initially slated for October 2020 to April 2021 before being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The US singer will bring the curtain down on the event, which has run for the last six months.

Grammy Award-winning artist Norah Jones will also star during the closing ceremony, performing on the Jubilee Stage immediately prior to Aguilera’s concert, while cellist Yo-Yo Ma will play a show at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre.

Forty members of a UAE-based children’s choir will perform Ishy Bilady, the National Anthem of the UAE, joined by the all-women Firdaus Orchestra, conducted by Yasmina Sabbah, while the Expo 2020 World String Ensemble will also take to the stage.

Expo 2020 Dubai has also featured concerts by acts such as Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Jason Derulo and Black Eyed Peas

The ceremony is being produced by live entertainment production company Fivecurrents, whose CEO Scott Givens is serving as executive producer.

“We’re telling the UAE’s story to the world through a beautifully-spoken presentation, but we’re backing it up with images and amazing projections, giving it a fresh, vibrant perception, with more layers and an elevated story,” Givens tells the Khaleej Times.

Last month, Coldplay performed a free show in support of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Programme for People and Planet. The show at Al Wasl Dome saw the band regionally premiere their Music of the Spheres album while highlighting the importance of protecting the planet in line with Expo’s sub-theme of sustainability.

The Expo has also featured acts such as Alicia Keys, Jason Derulo and Black Eyed Peas.

 


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ASM Global announces key venue appointments

ASM Global has made a pair of key leadership appointments in the UK and the Middle East.

Darren Moore, who was previously general manager of the 1,900-cap York Barbican, is named general manager of Bonus Arena, Hull.

The 3,500-cap venue, which opened in 2018, is set to welcome artists such as Texas, Paul Weller, Jack Savoretti, Pet Shop Boys, Foals, Paloma Faith and Bryan Adams over the coming months.

“Darren has many years of experience in the industry and has worked as part of our team for a little over 10 years,” Marie Lindqvist, SVP operations Europe at ASM Global. “For the last four years, Darren has successfully led the team to enhance the performance of York Barbican, in terms of both content and financial metrics, and we’re excited to see what he brings to the Bonus Arena, Hull.”

In addition, Dan Harris, the current general manager at Bonus Arena, is relocating to Dubai to become commercial director for the 17,000-cap Coca-Cola Arena.

“We want to thank Dan for his leadership, and the success he has brought to our business in the UK,” adds Lindqvist. “We are very pleased to see him continuing his career with ASM Global in this new, exciting role with our team in Dubai.”

“As a proven leader within ASM Global, we are thrilled to welcome Dan to the team”

Harris, who has also served as GM for Scunthorpe’s Baths Hall and Plowright Theatre in the UK, says: “I am looking forward to the challenge afforded to me in the Middle East, by ASM Global and Dubai Holding. It is great to see the return of live events in Dubai and I will be working closely with key stakeholders and commercial partners to continue driving the industry at Dubai’s home of live entertainment.”

Harris’ appointment the promotion of Mark Jan Kar to GM of the Coca-Cola Arena in June 2021. The venue has sought to diversify its strategy by catering to an increasing number of sporting events. Upcoming concerts include The Kooks and Ronan Keating.

ASM Global APAC chairman and CEO Harvey Lister AM adds: “As a proven leader within ASM Global, we are thrilled to welcome Dan to the team. Coca-Cola Arena has seen a strong recovery as it emerges from the pandemic and I am positive that Dan’s extensive background in events and venue management will greatly benefit the arena as Dubai cements itself on the global touring circuit.”

 


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Coldplay to perform free show at Expo 2020 Dubai

Coldplay are to perform a free show in Dubai next week in support of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Programme for People and Planet.

The show will see the band regionally premiere their Music of the Spheres album while highlighting the importance of protecting the planet in line with Expo’s sub-theme of sustainability, and will take place live at Al Wasl Dome on 15 February.

The concert, which will also be livestreamed on VirtualExpoDubai.com, Expo TV on YouTube and Expo 2020’s Facebook page – as well as via Oculus VR – forms part of the world’s fair’s monthly Infinite Nights series, which has previously featured acts such as Alicia Keys and Black Eyed Peas.

The Middle East’s first world’s fair, Expo 20 was originally scheduled for October 2020 to April 2021 before being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. Fans attending the show must have both an Expo 2020 ticket and a Coldplay ticket, which can be booked from tomorrow (12 February).

“They’re not just talking about doing something, they’re leading by example”

“As a band, we always try to put togetherness and sustainability at the heart of everything we do,” says a statement by Coldplay. “It’s an honour to be invited to perform at Expo 2020 Dubai Infinite Nights for a special celebration of these two themes.”

The group, who last visited the UAE in 2016, previously announced their upcoming Music of the Spheres world tour would have an ‘eco-friendly’ focus. According to frontman Chris Martin, the tour will partly be powered by a dancefloor that generates electricity when fans jump up and down, and pedal power at the venues.

“It’s something that everyone should be striving for,” Coldplay agent Josh Javor of X-ray Touring told IQ last year. “They’re not just talking about doing something, they’re leading by example. I think you do need bigger artists to show other people how it could be possible to change.

The tour will kick off in March 2022 in Costa Rica, which has one of the highest rates of renewable energy generation in the world.

 


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Weekly hologram concert series launches in Dubai

Dubai’s Al Habtoor Theatre is to host a bi-weekly series of hologram concerts of legendary artists accompanied by a live band.

The Dubai Hologram Universe has been launched at the 1,288 capacity venue by hologram production agency New Dimension Productions (NDP) in collaboration with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment.

The National reports the series will present artists such as Frank Sinatra, as well as the likes of Umm Kulthum and Warda Al Jazairia, in hologram format.

“We are delighted to partner with NDP in launching such an innovative initiative as the Dubai Hologram Universe that will turn the spotlight on legendary music icons through hologram technology,” says Ahmed Alkhaja, chief executive of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment.

“The Dubai Hologram Universe marks the first step to achieving our long-term strategy to position Dubai as the capital of hologram entertainment”

NDP was founded in Amman, Jordan, in 2010, before relocating to the United Arab Emirates.

“The Dubai Hologram Universe marks the first step to achieving our long-term strategy to position Dubai as the capital of hologram entertainment,” says Hasan M Hina, founder and executive producer and director of New Dimension Productions.

The first show, starring the late Egyptian crooner Abdel Halim Hafez, who died in 1977, took place during last month’s Dubai Shopping Festival.

 


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Anghami to open venues in Middle East, UK, US

Anghami, the largest music streaming service in the Middle East and north Africa (Mena), has announced plans to open music venues in Dubai, Riyadh and several other Middle Eastern cities, as well as in the UK and North America.

Lebanon-based Anghami, which is preparing for a flotation on New York’s Nasdaq market, has partnered with hospitality company Addmind to launch Anghami Lab, an “innovative entertainment venue” concept which will debut in Dubai in early 2022. According to the companies, Anghami Lab will bridge the worlds of live and digital music, its live stage being joined by a studio where performers can create “music inspired by both Arabic and international cultures” which will then be made available to listen back exclusively on Anghami.

In addition, new features will be added to the Anghami app “complementing both experiences”, say the new partners.

“This is a great opportunity to further reinforce the value we provide digitally to be converged offline in a unique user-to-guest experience”

Eddy Maroun, co-founder and CEO of Anghami, says: “We are excited to partner with Addmind to create this unique, transformational experience for our users. Addmind is a leading expert in conceptualising and operating hospitality spaces, and this is a great opportunity to further reinforce the value we provide digitally to be converged offline in a unique user-to-guest experience.”

Following the opening of the Dubai venue, further Anghami Labs are planned for Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, then Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Cairo (Egypt), Beirut (Lebanon), London, New York and Los Angeles.

“Anghami is more than just a streaming platform,” comments Tony Habre, CEO of Addmind. “They have elevated the value of the music industry in the Middle East as a whole. Anghami Lab is an amazing and unique concept that embodies our rich Arab culture with an international twist, which we are thrilled to bring to fruition and scale.”

 


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Mark Jan Kar appointed new GM of Coca-Cola Arena

Mark Jan Kar has been promoted to general manager of Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena following the recent resignation of arena CEO Guy Ngata.

Kar, who is currently the arena’s director of commercial and live, will assume the role on 20 June following the departure of Ngata, who is returning to his home country of New Zealand.

Harvey Lister, chairman and chief executive of arena operator ASM Global Apac, says: “Guy’s leadership and management of the arena is demonstrated by Coca-Cola Arena Dubai being named venue of the year at the Middle East Event Awards last month. Guy will be returning to Auckland to join his family for an extended period and we wish him well in his future endeavours.”

“Mark’s understanding and knowledge of the many wonderful and unique characteristics of the destination will be invaluable”

Welcoming Kar, Lister continues: “We are committed to and optimistic about the future. As a long-time resident of Dubai, Mark’s understanding and knowledge of the many wonderful and unique characteristics of the destination will be invaluable, and he will be fully supported by the whole ASM Global team as we grow content for the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf region generally.”

With a capacity of 17,000, Coca-Cola Arena is the biggest indoor arena in Dubai. The venue opened in 2019 but has, in common with other entertainment venues globally, spent much of the past year with its doors shut, though it managed to reopen for socially distanced shows at the tail end of last year.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity afforded to me by ASM Global APAC and [venue owner] Dubai Holding,” says Kar. “As an executive team we are committed along with our stakeholders to the return of live in the city of Dubai and truly excited for what the future holds.”

 


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United at Home: How David Guetta live streams raised millions

United at Home, David Guetta’s free-to-access lockdown livestream series, has raised more than US$2 million for charity to date – over half a million dollars per show – and is just getting started, according to co-organiser Michael Wiesenfeld.

Wiesenfeld, a French-born, Miami-based estate agent and friend of Guetta, was instrumental in setting up the first United at Home event in April 2020, which saw the DJ play a 100-minute set on the roof of an apartment block in Miami in aid of the World Health Organization (WHO), Feeding South Florida, Feeding America and France’s Fondation des Hôpitaux.

The show was seen by more than 12 million people – many of which also joined in on a Zoom link, while 7,000 residents of neighbouring blocks in the Icon Brickell complex watched from their balconies – and raised $700,000, with donations matched by Guetta himself, Wiesenfeld explains.

“For that first show, David paid for 100% of the production, as well as matching people’s donations, so 100% of that money went directly to charity,” he recalls.

Thinking back to the genesis of the show, Wiesenfeld tells IQ: “David wanted to do something to give back, but he didn’t really know what. I was the same – it was such a stressful time, and I couldn’t sleep thinking of all these people who were worse off than me. We could see people were struggling. There was no help at the time, as this was before any stimulus package.

“I used to live in the apartment block where we did the first show and I realised it would be perfect. I was looking for something that would be visually very nice [to watch from home] and also offer the possibility for David to interact with a live crowd. A friend and client of mine in the real-estate business, Jean-Charles Carre, is part of David’s management team, so I called them up and said, ‘Why don’t we do it here?’”

The United at Home team, which also included Jérémy Zeitoun, Guetta’s head of social media and digital marketing, and Pierre-Georges Kieffer from Warner Music France, pulled the Miami show together in under a week, working “18 hours a day for five days” to make it happen, Wiesenfeld continues.

In addition to providing some much-needed entertainment, the funds raised by United at Home Miami and follow-up event United at Home New York, on 30 May, enabled Feeding America to distribute over four million meals to people in need.

“We thought about selling tickets to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it”

“Everybody has same story about it giving a bit of happiness at time of such darkness,” Wiesenfeld says. “I dug out the clips recently and, even a year later, I had chills. It was like watching France win the world cup!”

“That night, I couldn’t sleep,” Wiesenfeld remembers. “David, the team and I were on the phone until 6.30 in the morning, we were so full of adrenaline. We all agreed that we had to do another one.”

The show that followed, which saw Guetta performing from the roof of New York’s Rockefeller Center, almost didn’t happen, with big-city bureaucracy, the worsening Covid-19 situation and the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd threatening to derail the concert before it got off the ground.

“The day of the event, there were 4,000 people on the streets of New York by our hotel,” Wiesenfeld explains. “We didn’t think we were going to make it to the Rockefeller Center in time. In the end, David arrived seven minutes before the show!”

Despite the chaotic circumstances, United at Home New York was another critical and financial success, securing the backing of a number of high-profile sponsors who were impressed by what the team had pulled off in Miami.

“In Miami, David paid for entire show, but in New York we had Major League Soccer, Heineken, Atari, all kinds of companies… In total, we had maybe 15 sponsors because they saw what we did in Miami and they were blown away,” says Wiesenfeld.

Similarly successful were United at Home Paris, held at the Louvre on New Year’s Eve 2020, and United at Home Dubai, which saw Guetta return to the rooftop (this time of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel) on 6 February. Both shows were engineered by Guetta’s long time tour manager, Jean-Guillaume Charvet, and visual artist Romain Pissenem of High Scream Production, and brought United at Home’s now-trademark mix of high-energy electronic music, spectacular visual effects and breathtaking locations to fans in new continents.

Bucking the trend towards ticketed live streams, Wiesenfeld says all future United at Home events will remain free to view to ensure they reach as many people as possible.

“The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people”

“We thought about it [selling tickets], to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it,” he explains. “David’s logic is that he’s been very successful, he’s received a lot from his fans, and now his duty is to give back. The charity angle is very important to him.”

At press time, the four shows had been collectively viewed by well over 100m people – and where in the beginning the team had to approach cities to host United at Home, now the cities are coming to them. “The shows have shown that these United at Home events are a great way of advertising their cities,” says Wiesenfeld, who with Carre now leads a specialist event consultancy, The Charity Guys. “After all, it’s a lot cheaper than hosting the Euros…”

The plan for 2021–22 is for another three or four over the next 12 months, he says. “Now United at Home has become a concept – we travel to a beautiful part of the world and play great music for charity – it’s going to continue.”

Post-coronavirus, Wiesenfeld adds, team Guetta – which also includes agent Maria May of CAA – are also hoping to do a “real show in a big stadium: a festival curated by David but featuring other artists. A Live Aid type of thing, once a year.”

On the live stream front, it’s likely the next United at Home show will be in Asia, but The Charity Guys is also looking at South America, the Middle East and other cities in Europe, according to Wiesenfeld. “What we’re trying to do is find new ways to raise money for those who need it,” he adds.

The Charity Guys is also hoping to work with other artists to replicate the success of the United at Home model, using it as their proof of concept.

“United at Home was the product of out-of-the-box thinking – it was livestreaming but in a completely different way. Now we want to do that with other artists and entertainers, leveraging their fame and brand to raise money.

“There are a lot of celebrities who have foundations but they don’t raise much money, and I think that’s because they don’t have the right team around them. The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people, and that’s why United at Home has been so successful.”

 


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Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena to reopen

Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai will reopen this Friday (20 November), welcoming fans for the first time since February in a Covid-secure format.

The 17,000-capacity arena, which opened last summer, has partnered with promoter OJ Lifestyle to bring an urban music event, Dark Knights Edition 1.0, to the venue. Hosted by UK comedian Paul Chowdhry, the show will see MoStack, Not3s and Yungen perform to a socially distanced crowd.

“We are very pleased to be able to provide live entertainment to the community of Dubai again, and we are excited to welcome the OJ Lifestyle team to Coca-Cola Arena on November 20th,” says Guy Ngata, CEO of Coca-Cola Arena.

“There has been a tremendous amount of work implemented across many sectors in Dubai to get to this point, and we are pleased to now open our doors again, with the safety of our guests of the utmost importance.”

Coca-Cola Arena’s new hygiene protocols and procedures have been developed in collaboration with Dubai Municipality, the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and international safety guidelines, as well as the arena’s operator, ASM Global.

“It’s critical that we assure people they are attending a safe environment”

To reopen, the venue will draw on VenueShield, ASM Global’s environmental hygiene programme, which has been implemented at ASM venues globally.

Coca-Cola Arena’s VenueShield protocol includes enhanced cleaning procedures; temperature checks on arrival and thermal cameras at all entrances; social distancing in place across queuing, seating and concourse areas; disinfectant fogging machines; and hand sanitiser dispensers installed around the arena.

“It’s critical that we assure people they are attending a safe environment, allowing fans and artists to enjoy an amazing live experience, which we are confident will be the case,” continues Ngata. “Our VenueShield protocol is there to instil confidence in our guests as we all become accustomed to a new way of experiencing live events for the time being.”

“It is important that fans are vigilant of their own surroundings and responsible in relation to their own well-being and that of others, in line with the consistent messaging communicated by the government of Dubai over the past months,” he adds.

Fans are advised to visit the arena’s website and read the Covid-19 information before attending the show. Tickets are on sale now, starting at 249 dirhams (€57).

 


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