The coming winter season is shaping up as a watershed period for the large-scale live events production industry in the Gulf region.
Despite typical flourishes in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain, the inevitable focus will fall once again on the UAE, and in particular, the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Abu Dhabi’s winter season kicks off in November with the country’s first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix.
In an attempt to leverage the widespread popularity of the top-flight motor racing event, organisers are planning a live concert series that will span the three nights of the F1 programme.
Industry sources suggest organisers are currently negotiating with the likes of Beyonce, Nelly Furtado and Timbaland to headline the event.
With the ongoing lack of 6,000+ capacity indoor alternatives, outdoor concerts and events are expected to once again take precedence this winter.
In Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace and to a lesser extent, Sheikh Zayed Sports Stadium, will continue to host the vast majority of large-scale live events.
After a bumper winter season in 2008/09, which included headline performances by artists such as Christina Aguilera, Andrea Bocelli and Coldplay, industry sources suggest Emirates Palace could this season host shows by the likes of Madonna.
Abu Dhabi will also play host to the FIFA Club World Cup in December, which will showcase the world’s best club football teams.
Despite the economic downturn hitting Dubai harder than Abu Dhabi, the traditionally glitzier emirate is also set host its fair share of major events and headline concerts this winter.
In addition to the annual Dubai Rugby Sevens, the Dubai World Cup will auger in the massive new Meydan equestrian development, while Dubai Cricket Stadium is expected to host a number of international cricket one-day and Twenty20 matches. The Race to Dubai and Dubai Desert Classic golfing tournaments will also no doubt garner international interest.
Dubai will also hope to wrestle back some of the limelight from the capital in terms of major concert events this winter, with the likes of Kings of Leon and Metallica rumoured to be negotiating gigs in the emirate for later this year.
The combined impact of these events spells good news for the AV install and live events production industries in the UAE.
Despite the doomsayers, large-scale business is set to be as good, if not better, than the landmark 2008/09 season.
However, the crash of the corporate events market means there still may be some casualties before this current economic crisis is resolved.