What downturn? Landmark live events in demand

    With consumer demand for large-scale live entertainment showing no signs of abating, the Middle East events production sector is enjoying a remarkable period of prosperity despite the current economic downturn.
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    With consumer demand for large-scale live entertainment showing no signs of abating, the Middle East events production sector is enjoying a remarkable period of prosperity despite the current economic downturn.

    While key players in international markets continue to review their commercial strategies and eliminate their profit forecasts for 2009, local distributors, rental companies and event promoters are cautiously optimistic of emerging relatively unscathed from the current economic storm.
     
    If the number of large-scale live events staged of late is anything to go by, the industry continues to operate from a position of strength, particularly in the GCC.
     
    This month alone, the UAE has hosted a number of well-attended world-class live entertainment events, including Desert Rock Festival, Cirque de Soleil: Allegria, Deep Purple and Gulf Bike Week Expo. The events calendar culminates in a first-of-its-kind double bill featuring Andrea Bocelli and Coldplay performing on consecutive nights this weekend at Emirates Palace.
     
    In Bahrain, the Spring of Culture Festival has seen Grammy Award winner Angelique Kidjo entertain fans at Arad Fort, while self-proclaimed DJ superstar Tiesto graced Qatari clubbers with his presence in Doha mid-month.
     
    While these popular entertainment events snared the headlines, the corporate and government sponsored events business has also ticked over, with a number of live events companies reporting steady demand in markets including Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.
     
     
    The fact remains that despite the downturn, the demand for live events, both consumer and commercial – with the exception of real estate launches in the latter instance – has not seen a considerable drop-off compared to the same period in 2008.
     
    This is great news for the industry and is worth shouting about amid the economic doom and gloom which is suffocating other industry sectors operating in the Gulf.
     
    April is shaping as another big month for the industry, with the 2009 instalment of the region’s biggest pro audio, lighting and live events production tradeshow, PALME, returning to Dubai.
     
    While fewer exhibitors are expected to grace the halls compared to 2008, PALME organisers are confident their renewed efforts to attract delegates from international markets will pay dividends in 2009.
     
    The GCC remains a source of commercial curiosity for many international manufacturers, particularly given the dearth of opportunities available in established markets such as Europe and the United States at present. Time will tell whether this trend is reflected at PALME 2009.
     
    April also marks the return of the industry’s night of nights, the Sound & Stage Awards. This year’s ceremony, which will be staged at Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina on April 26, will celebrate the achievements of individuals and organisations that worked so hard to make 2008 a landmark year for the live events production industry.
     
    With an overwhelming number of nominations in the bag, we’re expecting this year’s awards ceremony to easily eclipse the success of last year’s inaugural event.
     
    With limited tickets available to the gala awards dinner, be sure to email annie.chinoy@itp.com to guarantee your seat. I look forward to seeing you all there on the night!

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