Industry growth hinges on new entertainment venues

    The UAE live events industry has kicked into overdrive.

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    With the quieter summer months now past, the UAE live events production industry has kicked into overdrive, with a record number of events planned for the remainder of 2007.

    The highlight no doubt will be Justin Timberlake's performance in Abu Dhabi, which has been confirmed for December 6 at Emirates Palace.

    Timberlake's show promises to be a massive production, with organiser IMG confirming the Sexyback singer is bringing his full 11-piece band, while a production crew of more than 100 is expected to pull the show together.

    It is also set to be the largest outdoor concert ever staged in Abu Dhabi, with an audience of more than 15,000 expected to be in attendance.

    The concert will cap a landmark quarter for major events staged in the UAE capital, which began with the hugely successful Middle East International Film Festival last month and will also include a stage run of the international production of Carmen at Emirates Palace this month.

    Still, Abu Dhabi's emergence remains overshadowed by Dubai, which is set to consolidate its position as the region's capital for major events production over the next six months.

    The recent Desert Rhythm Festival kickstarted the emirate's winter season of major events, which is set to include an array of major festivals and stage performances by artists ranging from Nancy Ajram to Arrested Development, international sporting events such as the Rugby Sevens, theatre shows, and exhibitions such as the Middle East International Motor Show.

    Meanwhile, Dubai's clubbing scene is thriving thanks to a blend of international notoriety and the development of new world class venues. This winter season, a cast of the world's best DJs from Tiesto to Carl Cox and Paul Van Dyk, are set to converge on the city for one-off shows that will further enhance the emirate's burgeoning reputation for hosting major club events.

    However, the growth in the number of club venues is an anomaly when cast against the background of the broader events industry.

    Indeed, one issue that must be addressed if Dubai and Abu Dhabi are to establish themselves as destinations for international events is the lack of suitable large-scale venues currently available.

    Emirates Palace for all its merits has become a default venue for major events in the UAE capital with no significant alternative available, while Dubai is in desperate need of an indoor entertainment venue capable of hosting events for more than 10,000 people.

    Until this issue is addressed, both emirates will struggle to attract international tours and events punters living in major cities around the world take for granted.

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