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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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Saudi Arabia bolsters entertainment offering

Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) is pushing forward with its commitment to boosting the live events in the country, forming partnerships with event producers and creating “seasons” dedicated to different kinds of entertainment activities.

The GEA recently launched its own website, calling for applications from event organisers and potential partners ahead of the upcoming Riyadh Season, which is considered the biggest entertainment event in the country’s capital. The deadline for application is at the end of August.

The Saudi Seasons 2019 programme, launched by Saudi Arabia’s Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, divides the year into eleven sections, with cultural events dedicated to a specific region of the country in each one.

Around 20 million visitors are expected to visit the two-month long Riyadh season from 11 October to 15 December, which promises to be the most entertainment-focused yet. The season kicks off with a performance by K-pop stars BTS at the capital city’s 70,000-capacity King Fahd stadium.

A major music event closed the recent Jeddah season, in the form of the Roqu Media-promoted Jeddah World Fest, which took place from June 8 to July 18, constituting the kingdom’s largest music festival to date.

“The GEA has a stated ambition to become one of the top-ten global entertainment destinations”

“The GEA has a stated ambition to become one of the top-ten global entertainment destinations and win back a share of the $20 billion that Saudi nationals spend on the overseas sector each year,” states Dishan Isaac, senior show manager of the Prolight + Sound Middle East exhibition.

According to the Saudi Gazette, the authority has also recently established partnerships with other event producers including National Geographic Encounter, IMG Artists and LuxuryKSA, in its bid to boost the entertainment sector.

“These agreements will require new venues to be built for these entertainment programs, fuelling increased supply opportunities in the country,” adds Isaac.

The Saudi government announced a US$2.67 billion investment in the entertainment sector in 2017, as part of its Vision 2030 economic reform plan.

Since then, the kingdom has seen performances from international artists including Mariah Carey, Jason Derulo and Marshmello, hosted its first-ever major, ticketed music festival and put on its first gender-integrated concert series.

 


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BTS Saudi Arabia concert prompts mixed reaction

K-pop stars BTS have added a date at Saudi Arabia’s 70,000-capacity King Fahd stadium to their 2019 world tour.

BTS are the latest high-profile act to announce dates in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom continues its bid to put itself on the touring map. The boy band would be the first international group to play a solo stadium concert in the country. The concert is scheduled to take place on 11 October 2019 as part of the band’s Love Yourself: Speak Yourself tour.

However, some fans have taken to social media to criticise the decision, questioning the Saudi government’s human rights record.

Nicki Minaj recently cancelled her appearance at the country’s largest-ever music festival, Jeddah World Fest, citing support for women’s rights, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression.

Human Rights Foundation (HRF), the organisation that lobbied for Minaj’s cancellation, is also urging fellow headliner Liam Payne to withdraw from the festival.

“Saudi Arabia is attempting to change the country’s image in part by developing an entertainment industry”

In a statement to Middle East Eye, Human Rights Watch researcher Adam Coogle said that Saudi Arabia was “attempting to change the country’s image in part by developing an entertainment industry and hosting concerts by well-known artists”, and encouraged artists to speak out against abuses.

Others believe the opening up of the live entertainment market is a sign of Saudi Arabia’s growing liberalisation.

Saudi Arabia hosted its first-ever gender-integrated concert series last December. The following month, Mariah Carey became the first international female to perform a solo concert at the King Abdullah stadium.

Jeddah World Fest takes place later this week (Thursday 18 July) at the 63,241-capacity King Abdullah Sports Stadium. All tickets for the event have sold-out.

Tickets for the King Fahd stadium tour date will become available soon.

 


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