The Middle East has become the latest battleground for the world's biggest live music companies which could see top international rock and pop names like Madonna and the Rolling Stones adding the United Arab Emirates to world tour circuits.
"There has been an explosion of live events in the Middle East in recent years but major developments in the global live music industry are set to make the UAE the hub of entertainment for the entire region from musicals to rock concerts," said Jennie Bishop, Senior Conference Manager of Event 360 – the region’s premier conference for strategic events organisers and destination management professionals. The conference runs alongside the Event 360 exhibition - the Middle East’s only dedicated show for event organisers and suppliers.
Event 360 runs in parallel with the Palme Middle East Exhibition taking place at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre from 27-29 April 2008.
One of the leading figures in the Middle East live event industry is Thomas Ovesen who recently joined AEG Live, one of the world’s leading concert promotion and touring companies, to oversee regional operations. He believes that as Dubai in particular develops international scale venues, "the sky is the limit."
Billboard Magazine recently tipped Dubai as one of its "Hot Spots to Stop" and Ovesen, who formerly headed Mirage Promotions, the Middle East's foremost promoter, added: "Frankly, if Elvis were alive, he'd consider a visit to Dubai in the next couple of years."
Ovesen, one of the headline speakers at the Event 360 conference, has worked with the likes of Mariah Carey, Beyonce Knowles, Alicia Keys, Pink, Mary J Blige, Tommy Lee and Aerosmith on their Middle East concerts. He was also involved in promoting the Middle East's largest ever pop concert when Shakira played Dubai last year.
“There is a large population from all over the world with a demand for shows of every conceivable kind and a great willingness from people living elsewhere in the region to travel to Dubai to be entertained," Ovesen said. "I believe the future of entertainment is here.”
Meanwhile, Ovesen's former company Mirage, which secures acts such as Diana Ross and Bryan Adams for corporate clients in the region, is being rebranded as Live Nation after the US media giant bought a 65% stake in the company.
Live Nation has relationships with 500 artists worldwide and has recently produced tours for U2, The Rolling Stones and Coldplay. The Mirage deal is seen as likely to increase the chance of top billing artists performing in the Middle East. "With a relatively wealthy expatriate population, a young music-loving local audience and 15 million visitors expected to visit Dubai annually within the next decade, the region is establishing a credible infrastructure for live music," added Bishop.
The Event 360 conference also includes regional and international event organisers such as the Bahrain International Circuit, the Supreme Commission for Tourism of Saudi Arabia, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The five-day conference incorporates more than 25 presentations and keynote addresses, along with networking sessions and three post-conference workshops, covering topics such as event security, health and safety issues through to practical project management skills and the winning guide to obtaining business sponsorship
Event 360 is held in association with the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) with World President and CEO Steven Wood Schmader CFEE to provide a keynote address on global issues, trends and opportunities in the events industry.
The regional events industry also has its own “Oscars” with the Middle East Event Awards at Event 360. The awards, hosted by meeting and events industry publication meetme (Meet Middle East) magazine, will take place on 27 April and are open to companies who plan, manage, supply or service exhibitions; consumer, corporate and public events; weddings, parties, concerts, venues and theatres.
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