Lady Gaga loved the Middle East, but did the Middle East love her?

Published September 17th, 2014 - 01:27 GMT

Almost a week after her concert in Dubai, it has hardly left any lasting impression, even though the media tried to hype her visit as much as possible. “She gave the audience a show of a lifetime”, commented Dubai Chronicle, while Emirates 24/7 described her show as “nothing short of artistry, drama, madness of fans gyrating to the tunes of her chartbusters.”

Lady Gaga’s first, long-awaited concert in Dubai took place at the Meydan Racetrack, a place made for horse racing events that proved impractical for a pop concert. The stage was on the left of the VIP section, giving only the standing audience the opportunity to have centered view of the performance. According to an event manager in Dubai who did not want to be named, most concerts in Dubai are staged either at the World Trade Center — which has several halls, the Media City Arena or Madinat Jumeirah.

Her tour, headed ”Lady Gaga’s ArtRave: The Artpop Ball Tour” had not attracted as many visitors as expected. A look on the seat map on the ticket sales site showed in the days before the concert lots of vacant seats. Days before the concert the organizers believed that most empty seats would be filled by last minute ticket purchases making it a sold-out show, but many seats remained empty at the concert.

Much was expected of her concert in Dubai on Wednesday, but beforehand fans had to wait for about 95 minutes until the artist started her first performance in the Middle East. Having waited in high, humid temperatures at the Maydan Arena, many greeted her with boos, but a big roar went up as she greeted her audience in Arabic “Marhaba Dubai.”

One can say that Lady Gaga did respect the customs of the Middle East. Her clothing, although extravagant, was much more modest than her usual appearance. Nudity was not there as she obviously kept herself from usual actions such as stripping, vomiting or playing with ketchup. Lady Gaga is known for her flamboyant and diverse contributions to the music industry via her fashion, live performances, and music videos. In the MTV Awards 2010, she wore a dress made of raw meat. It was named by the Time magazine as top fashion statement 2010 and condemned by animal rights organizations.

In a step to satisfy the production team’s requirement, organizers had promised to install special coolers to ensure fans have a ‘comfortable’ experience — with temperature around 35C in September. In addition, 36 Vari-Light VL3500 Wash FX luminaries had been installed to ensure a suitable atmosphere. “This is crazy, where are the coolers?” Manal J. from Abu Dhabi asked, “They are nowhere felt.”

On stage, she missed no opportunity to express her gratitude for being “allowed” to come to Dubai. “They used to tell me I was crazy, I would never come to the Middle East. They were wrong, they were the judgmental ones,” she told her audience in an emotional voice. She made a few failed attempts to speak in Arabic and giggled all through it when it failed.

Emirates 24/7 described her performance as an “extravagant stage, her eccentric wigs, peculiar wardrobe, troupe of dancers was all a mélange celebrating life and spreading the message of acceptance — decoding ‘Born This Way’”.

Dubai was her only destination in the Arab world on this tour, which includes Asia, Europe, and Americas. The tour kicked off in May and will end in November in Europe and comes in support for her album, Artpop, which was released on Nov. 6, 2013. This album sold only 2.5 million copies worldwide, compared to 6 million for “Born This Way” in 2011, and 15 million of “Fame”, which was released in 2008. Her fame came in 2008 with huge successes such as “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”. Next came “Bad Romance”, “Telephone” and “Aljandro”. “Born This Way”, 2011 topped the charts in over 20 countries. The third Album “Artpop” included “Applause” and “Do What U Want”.

The show was calculated from the beginning to the end. Not the slightest delay while changing scenes or costumes happened. She always kept the audience entertained by dancers or music performers. “I felt she has done too much show, which I wished she would not have. She is here to sing, not to act” said Ibrahim F, 27, “But I guess this is part of show business.”

It is known that a good part of the income of today artists comes from tours and merchandise, rather than CDs, because so much music is downloaded illegally from the Internet. “The Middle East has become a major destination for international musicians as they know that their music is widespread among young Arabs who lived abroad.” Said Michael L, a concierge at a leading Dubai hotel. When asked whether he can say that prices differ, he replied “Yes, here in Dubai I see that prices are higher than in Europe or elsewhere in the world.”

Many people left the show after only an hour. “I am here for two songs only. Once they are played, I am out of here”, said Dana H, 54.
So far, Gaga has sold 27 million albums globally, and 125 million singles. She has won 5 Grammy Awards and 13 MTV Music Awards. As of June 2014, she is one of the best-selling musicians of all time and was named one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine in 2010.

Lady Gaga — Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta — is also a songwriter and an actress. She initially performed in theater, appearing in school plays and briefly studied arts in New York before dropping out to pursue a musical career. She started few attempts in the art world before she finally succeeded as a songwriter for SONY/ATV Music Publishing. There her vocal abilities were noticed and she made a deal with Interscope Records in early 2000.

Lady Gaga ended her almost two-hour show by saying “Shukran Dubai.”


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