Why don’t some of the major world bands play in the Middle East?

Mar 7 • Dubai Gossip • 1027 Views • No Comments on Why don’t some of the major world bands play in the Middle East?

With the recent announcement that U2 will be playing Istanbul in September, it raises a question we are often asked: “Why don’t the major world acts play in the Middle East?” Things have improved over the last few years with such well known names as Aerosmith, Robbie Williams, Bon Jovi, Queen and Nickelback playing in the UAE, however the really major stadium filling acts such as U2 or the Rolling Stones or Madonna have yet to make an appearance. The answer is purely one of economics. To bring a touring show and performers of this scale is a hugely expensive exercise that needs to be constantly fed and paid for by ticket and concession sales. The artists themselves obviously share in the royalties and a successful tour can provide a suitably large payday for the bands involved but, in this particular market, the gene pool of potential ticket purchasers is considerably smaller than some people imagine. Take all the costs associated with bringing, say U2, to Dubai and then work out how many tickets would be needed to be sold to recoup that cost and at what face value. Where they can easily fill a European or North American venue that holds between 90,000 and 125,000 people, there is simply no venue like that here. Robbie Williams played to 150,000 paying customers in the UK whilst here the number was only 22,000. This means the ticket price becomes secondary to the ability of the artist to attract a suitable sponsor, willing to make up the shortfall in return for media exposure and the chance to rub shoulders with an A list performer. After the global economic downturn, those sponsors are now thin on the ground. When the big names do arrive, many are pleasantly surprised at the level of professionalism within the leading events organisers here. With world renowned events such as the Dubai World Cup, Tennis Tournament and now the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the local industry are no strangers to major productions, but we are still in desperate need of a major venue. As technical solutions providers we are often brought in to solve the logistics problems associated with putting on an event in a ‘brown field’ environment. There are some open spaces that could handle a major concert, but the cost of adapting them makes them it restrictive. Likewise, the accessibility of these venues is a limiting factor. Anyone standing for 2 hours waiting for a taxi in the rain after the Nickelback concert will appreciate that it is easy to GET to the show, but much harder to get home. Taxi drivers will much rather wait outside a hotel or club in the knowledge that they will get a guaranteed fare, rather than risk driving a long way off the normal shipping lanes on the off chance they will pick up a concert goer. So when one of these major acts finally signs on the dotted line to play Dubai, we are looking forward to the flurry of calls to assist with the difficult technical obstacles involved with building a serviced arena in the desert!

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