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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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UAE will require proof of vaccination for live events

Venues in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will only be permitted to admit fans who are vaccinated against Covid-19 when full-capacity shows return, the country’s ministry of health has said.

The policy, which comes into force this Sunday (6 June), will apply to all live events, including cultural, sports and arts activities, in the Gulf state, Reuters reports. As an extra safeguard, all attendees will be required to produce a negative PCR test taken at least 48 hours before the event.

The UAE is home to two key touring markets, the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as a thriving tourism industry. As of 17 May, Dubai has allowed full-capacity concerts and sports events where all attendees have been vaccinated.

As IQ reported last week, the issue of requiring vaccination status in order to attend a show has split the live music industry, with less strict approach that would also allow a negative Covid-19 test (or proof of immunity) suggested as a non-discriminatory alternative.

Along with Israel, the UAE has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, with nearly 13 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine (out of a population of 9.8m) having been given as of 29 May.

 


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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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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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2,000 perform in record-setting virtual show

Rockin’ 1000, the ‘biggest rock band on Earth’, set a new world record on Friday night after bringing together 2,500 performers for a single virtual concert.

The Italian-born music collective – which achieved viral fame in summer 2015 with their 1,000-person rendition of Foo Fighters’ ‘Learn to Fly’ – broke the Guinness World Record for ‘most videos in a music medley video’ with a virtual concert streamed live from Global Village, the Dubai entertainment and shopping complex, on 30 October.

Nearly 2,000 people from more than 80 countries participated in the event, performing a medley of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, Joey Ramone’s ‘What a Wonderful World’, Status Quo’s ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’ and New Radicals’ ‘You Get What You Give’ for the so-called ‘Global Gig’, co-produced by Global Village, Arabian Radio Network and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

Fabio Zaffagnini, founder and general manager of Rockin’ 1000, comments: It was our pleasure to perform together with our members from around the world and we are grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Global Village silver jubilee celebrations. The experience is one that we will never forget, and Global Village will always hold a special place in our hearts, as we look forward to visiting in person as soon as we can.”

At press time, Rockin’ 1000’s ‘Global Gig’, which can be watched back above, had been seen by 355,000 people.

 


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First large-scale shows return to UAE

Dubai-based promoter Done Events is hosting the UAE’s first major post-Covid shows next month, as part of the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) event series.

Done Events, part of Arab Media Group (AMG) and owner of Dubai Jazz Festival, is promoting two shows by Jimmy Carr – the comedian’s first in the UAE – on 13 and 14 August at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The show will form part of the DSS Festival, a seven-week long series of live entertainment, family-friendly experiences and shopping deals, as well as Done Events’ DXBLaughs comedy series, the largest in the region.

Both shows will follow the UAE government’s latest Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, with full information available when tickets go on sale next week.

“Our vision is to respond genuinely to the customers’ needs and make an impact during these difficult times”

“Challenging moments in history have always driven ingenuity and innovation” says Done Events MD, Girish Bhat. “Our vision is to respond genuinely to the customers’ needs and make an impact during these difficult times. Done Events promises to deliver a safe experience following all the necessary health and safety protocols as well as social distancing arrangements.”

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), ads that he is “delighted” to have Jimmy Carr perform as part of DSS.

“DSS is as much about entertainment as it is about shopping, and it is the combination of world-class leisure events, retail experiences and citywide attractions at incredible prices that sets DSS apart as one of the great summer shopping festivals in the world.”

A recent YouGov survey of UAE residents indicated a wariness around returning to live events in the wake of Covid-19, with 56% of respondents saying they were “somewhat likely or not at all likely” to attend shows.

Respondents said the mandatory use of face masks and gloves, increased cleaning and disinfecting of venues and increased social distancing were the measures most likely to encourage them to visit entertainment venues.

Photo: Creativesaravana/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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The recovery starts here: IQ 89 out now

IQ 89, the latest edition of IQ Magazine, comes packed full of expert commentary, insight and analysis on the pressure the Covid-19 pandemic is exerting on the live business, as the industry braces for the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months.

In the midst of unprecedented times, IQ 89 includes a bumper coronavirus special report, delving into the lessons learned from the crisis, different governments’ responses to the pandemic and the plan for the live business going forward.

Leading industry figures have contributed to the report, which includes comments and predictions from Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, CAA’s Emma Banks, DEAG’s Peter Schwenkow, Rock Werchter’s Herman Schueremans, Paradigm’s Alex Hardee, Yourope’s Christof Huber, Move Concerts’ Phil Rodriguez, the Royal Albert Hall’s Lucy Noble and more.

Long-form versions of these interviews, as well as the full coronavirus report, will appear online over the coming days.

As well as analysing what the recovery of the industry may look like, the latest edition of IQ Magazine also looks at some of the ‘good news’ stories that have emerged from the global shutdown, as many in the live events sector pivot to assist the medical sector, dedicate talent to boosting morale or use their platform to raise funds and awareness.

Continuing the coronavirus theme, the rise of livestreaming is also explored, as writer Derek Robertson turns to those enabling live performance to endure the shutdown across a variety of digital platforms.

As well as analysing what the recovery of the industry may look like, IQ 89 looks at the ‘good news’ stories that have emerged from the global shutdown

Casting the mind back to what now seem like distant times, highlights from the 32nd edition of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) and Arthur Awards also appear in the magazine. Taking place just as the global impact of the virus was beginning to be events, this year’s conference was characterised by a heightened sense of industry camaraderie and solidarity.

Elsewhere, IQ 89 celebrates the life and career of veteran promoter Ossy Hoppe, who turns 70 later this month, recalling his early days as part of his family’s touring circus troupe, to his founding and running of Wizard Promotions, now in the hands of Hoppe’s son, Oliver.

The emergence of the Gulf States as a major touring market – put on hold temporarily by the global pandemic – is also examined, with promoters in the region optimistic for what the future may hold.

The coronavirus special also comes filled with some regular features, such as the newly established Readers’ Lives page featuring the favourite hobbies of top industry figures, and the Your Shout page, with live event professionals sharing their most unusual lockdown pastimes.

As always, most content from the magazine will appear online in some form over the next few months. However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe now.


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Dubai live pioneer Richard Coram passes

Richard Coram, one of the Middle East’s live music pioneers and a household name in the UAE, has passed away from Covid-19.

Known locally as the ‘voice of Dubai’, Coram, who arrived in the emirate in 1978, was a TV and radio fixture for much of the 1980s, hosting his own show on Dubai FM 92 and working as a newsreader on Channel 33 Dubai.

Coram (pictured) is best known to the live music community as founder of events firm The Talent Brokers, which he established in 1979. Later joined by Coram’s wife, Padma, the company staged shows by the likes of Lionel Richie, Bryan Adams, Luciano Pavarotti and Sirs Elton John and Rod Stewart, at a time when large-scale live events in Dubai were thin on the ground.

The Talent Brokers is remembered fondly in the Middle East for its high-quality live events, in contrast to many of the “cowboys” that followed, media veteran Keith Fernandez tells Gulf News. “I have countless memories of the shows they mounted. […] These were almost always superbly organised shows, with excellent security, F&B and logistics.”

“A giant has left us”

“You only needed to see their name attached to an event to know it would be a quality show,” adds Dubai resident Anthony Permal. “This was Richard’s legacy. [There is] no part of [the live] events [industry] that hasn’t been touched by Richard.”

In a tweet, Dubai-based marketing specialist Anthony Permal pays tribute to Coram as a “giant” of the live entertainment industry. “Richard Coram is the OG events guru of Dubai,” he says. “He started the true wave and paved the way for so many of us.

“A giant has left us.”

The Corams, along with their son, Aryan, later moved to the UK, where Richard spent his final years. Recent projects in the UK included AR Rahman at the O2 Arena, in August 2015, and Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2019, with Stormzy and Rita Ora, last December.

 


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Etihad agrees naming deal for Flash’s Yas Bay Arena

Abu Dhabi’s new Yas Bay Arena will be known as Etihad Arena when it opens later this year, following the signing of a naming-rights agreement between Etihad Airways and venue owner Miral.

The US$3.2 billion, 18,000-capacity indoor arena is the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi, capital and the largest of the seven United Arab Emirates.  Operated by promoter Flash Entertainment, Etihad Arena will “host an eclectic variety of events, including sporting competitions, corporate events, cultural performances, concerts and many other appealing activities throughout the year”, according to Miral, the publicly owned property company responsible for developing and managing Yas Island.

In addition to the arena, the 25km² Yas Island is home to Yas Marina Circuit, which hosts the the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; theme parks including Warner Bros World, Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld; and numerous hotels and retail stores.

Tony Douglas, group CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, says: “It’s an honour to partner with an Abu Dhabi institution such as Miral on this joint venture, which will further promote Abu Dhabi and Yas Island as a hub for entertainment, tourism and culture. Etihad Arena complements our global presence at a number of sporting and entertainment venues, most notably Etihad Stadium in Manchester, home of Manchester City Football Club.

“This new arena will bring an abundance of talent to our capital”

“This new arena will bring an abundance of talent to our capital, providing a diverse range of entertainment options for guests visiting our beautiful city, or for those who call the UAE home.”

“As our national airline with international reach, Etihad Airways is the ideal partner to help position the newly named Etihad Arena competitively on the local and regional map of live entertainment destinations,” adds Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral. “The new venue will be a significant addition to the unique offerings on Yas Island and in Abu Dhabi, creating unforgettable experiences and helping us deliver on our vision to position Yas Island as a top global destination for entertainment, leisure and business.

“This is a testament to our commitment to grow the tourism industry and achieve our leadership’s vision of economic diversification.”

Etihad Arena will be the second major indoor arena in the UAE, following the recently opened Coca-Cola Arena in neighbouring Dubai. The outdoor 117 Live Arena (formerly Autism Rocks Arena) opened in Dubai in 2016.

 


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Mariah Carey performs free in Dubai Expo 2020 launch

A year to the day before Dubai hosts a six-month long World Expo event, Mariah Carey is due to perform in a free concert at Burj Park.

The concert, dubbed One Year to Go, will take place on 20 October, with local singer Hussain Al Jassmi, as well as acts DJ Bliss, Abri and the Funk Radius and Khalifa also billed to perform.

The Expo, which was awarded to Dubai in 2013 by the International Exposition Bureau in Paris, will take place on a main 438-hectare site enclosed by three thematic districts – opportunity, mobility and sustainability.

A variety of live performances, cultural activities, business presentations and global celebrations will occur during the Expo.

The United Arab Emirates is also hosting live performances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Formula One race from 28 November to December 1. Lana Del Rey will perform in the Middle East for the first time at the event, alongside EDM star Marshmello, the Killers and rapper Travis Scott.

In December, British singer Dido will perform and Dubai’s Media City Amphitheatre (15,000-cap.) and Bruno Mars will close out the year with a headline New Year’s show at the du Arena (25,000-cap.) in Abu Dhabi.

Last month, AEG Ogden, the operator of Dubai’s 17,000-capacity Coca-Cola Arena, celebrated the role the arena was playing in placing the UAE – and the wider region – on the international touring map.

Read more about the Middle East’s growing live events market below.

Full of Eastern Promise: The Middle East matures


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