Taking over the helm of Sound & Stage has felt a bit like being entrusted with someone’s baby – or perhaps in this case, their spanking-new kit. As the only magazine of its kind in the region, it is – or should be – a valuable source of news, a platform for raising issues and a showcase of what’s happening in the industry.
Events in the Middle East are a big business but behind them is a much smaller community of technical designers, hire companies, creative consultants and distributors. On my travels over the past month, I’ve met some – but by all means not all – of you and the overwhelming impression I’ve had so far is a feeling of pride for the sector.
Industry players look almost misty-eyed when reminiscing about the early days of events in the region, and in the next breath express confidence in how far the industry has come – slowly, yet surely. And you can’t get past the fact that everyone knows – or knows of - everyone.
Two stories in particular have proved hot topics recently and we look at both in this month’s issue.
First off the post was the news of AEG ‘de-branding’ in the Middle East and merging their team into Done Events. While there were suggestions that as Done are behind many Dubai Government events and will now have a fledgling concert division headed by industry stalwart Thomas Oversen, they may be in a better position to compete with the likes of Flash in Abu Dhabi for the big names, I can’t help but think that perhaps Abu Dhabi’s big bucks will trump them.
Still in Dubai and in what could be a very exciting – if not ambitious – move, Lebanon-based Pragma Group announced that its acquisition of the Palladium will not just be a mere takeover but a complete overhaul. Most interesting for those looking to stage large events – both in a corporate and commercial sense – is that the Group’s chairman Joe Tabet has alluded to the potential of rebuilding the facility to hold 7,000 to 8,000 punters.
When S&S spoke to then-general manager Raymond Gaspar about the venue in May, he admitted that the economic climate was a challenge, as it is to many, but predicted an increase in booking volumes over the next year. It’s amazing the change a few months brings. More on the announcement can be found on page 24.
Ultimately, this is your magazine so I encourage you to email me with your questions, concerns and suggestions. Don’t be shy.