After arguably the toughest 12 months in the history of the GCC live events industry, it was fitting that last month’s Yasalam concert series – the largest of its kind ever staged in the Middle East – created headlines for all the right reasons.
Steered by boom Abu Dhabi promoter Flash, the event brought together more than a dozen of the UAE’s leading live event organisations, including equipment rental companies, staging consultants, F&B suppliers, and lighting and sound engineers.
The F1 concert series, which featured Kings of Leon, Beyonce, Aerosmith and Jamiroquai, in addition to various live events staged on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, showcased the combined talents of the industry to more than 500,000 punters and the world’s media, making a mockery of less stellar F1 concert events staged elsewhere.
The sheer professionalism displayed by the production team, not to mention their camaraderie and good humour, is a reminder of what this industry can achieve when it puts its collective mind to it.
With this month marking the conclusion of Sound & Stage’s third calendar year of publication, the success of the event was also a timely reminder of how far the UAE industry has progressed in this short space of time.
From a relative backwater in 2007, the country’s live events production sector has grown remarkably in terms of the technology and talent available, while Abu Dhabi and Dubai have consolidated their respective positions as destinations for world-class touring and one-off events.
It’s also testament to just how far the commercial dynamics have shifted in the UAE, with the focus now squarely on Abu Dhabi, both in terms of live entertainment event production and multi-billion dollar AV systems integration projects.
This month marks another bumper period for Abu Dhabi in terms of live events production, with US acts The Killers and Rihanna performing in the UAE capital respectively. The FIFA Club World Cup, which is set down for December 9 – 19, will also confirm Abu Dhabi’s growing reputation as a major stakeholder in world sport.
The combined impact of these events means the UAE live events sector is well placed to enjoy a better than expected recovery in 2010, with many of the industry’s biggest players predicting Q1 to be their busiest period since the corresponding quarter in 2008.
It’s highly likely the Abu Dhabi F1 and Yasalam will be remembered in the long-term as important catalysts for this recovery.