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Everything you need to know about MDLBEAST SoundStorm Festival in Riyadh

MDLBEAST SoundStorm festival is a music festival in Saudi Arabia. It was first launched in 2019 as part of the Riyadh Mega Event. The festival made headlines this year for being the world's largest music festival, attracting 732,000 eager fans from across the region and beyond. Once unthinkable, the idea of a music festival in Saudi Arabia, where hundreds of thousands of men and women dance together is now a reality.


Many of you may have heard about this festival and we wanted to share some details about this incredible festival that happened last year. To understand the impact and significance of this festival let's first take a look at the history of Saudi Arabia.


(Image Source - Arab News)


Background


Saudi Arabia has been known for its conservative culture. The conservative Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam practiced by most Saudis dominates every aspect of the country’s culture and daily life, from the mosque minarets which call the faithful to prayer five times each day to the complete bans on alcohol, pork, and public gatherings of non-related individuals of the opposite sex. Reading material is heavily censored and only a handful of Saudi movie theaters have reopened following a decades’ long ban.


However things have changed since King Salman took the throne In 2015. In April 2016, support for him reached its pinnacle when he unveiled his cornerstone strategy for economic diversification, Vision 2030. This became the symbol of Mohammed bin Salman’s domestic ambitions and his bid to address young people’s concerns about the sustainability of an oil-dependent economy. Indeed, in implementing the vision, he has made sure to constantly underline the importance of young people, identifying them as the real vehicle for change. In Saudi Arabia, an estimated 60 percent of the population is under the age of 30,


in April 2016. Shortly after unveiling Vision 2030, the government announced the creation of the General Entertainment Authority. This has taken on responsibility for setting up entertainment venues and events, including cinemas and concerts.


This vision was created after the King had a goal to increase spending within the Kingdom “We have another very important goal, that is the goal of the local content: today the amount of Saudi Arabia’s purchases outside Saudi Arabia on goods or activities, etc., is up to $230 billion. The goal of the vision 2030 is to have half of this spending inside the Kingdom.”


Riyadh Season


Since the General Entertainment Authority was formed, Vision 2030 has had an incredible impact on Saudi Arabia's culture. One of the biggest events that occurs is the Riyadh Season.


(Image Source - Time Out Riyadh)


Riyadh Season was first launched in 2019 and is a three month mega event. According to Turki Al Sheikh, head of the General Entertainment Authority, "Riyadh Season will bring the world to Saudi Arabia." The theme of the first season is ‘Imagine.’ The theme was chosen as a slogan to 'Imagine' 70 days of continuous entertainment, 'Imagine' in 12 different zones, 'Imagine' more than 100 events in a span of three months.


Due to the exceptional demand and success, Ridiya Season was extended for another month and exceeded 10 million visitors.


The government spent 3.1 billion riyals ($830 million) on events that year, generating 6 billion riyals ($1.6 Billion) in “direct and indirect” revenue, according to entertainment authority chairman Turki Al Ashikh.

(Image Source - Saudi Gazette)


MDLBeast SoundStorm

MDLBeast SoundStorm festival was first launched in 2019 as part of the Riyadh Mega Event. The second Riyadh Season was launched in October 2021 and will last until March 2022. It is estimated that 7000 events will be hosted over 14 different zones around the city of Riyadh.


MDLBeast SoundStorm festival made headlines for being the world's largest music festival, attracting 732,000 eager fans from across the region and beyond. Once unthinkable, the idea of a music festival in Saudi Arabia, where hundreds of thousands of men and women dance together is now a reality.


On the final day of the MDLBeast Music Festival in Riyadh, almost 152,000 people attended, outnumbering other international festivals such as Tomorrowland in Belgium and Coachella in California.


According to the Saudi Gazette, the MDLBeast Music Festival will surpass the most-attended musical event in the globe with its record-breaking attendance from Dec. 16-19.

(Image Source - Conde Nast Traveller)


The festival included a multisensory, multi-stage experience, showcasing both local and international talent from all walks of life. Over 200 musicians played at the festival including Steve Aoki, David Guetta, Tiesto, Martin Garrix, and Jason Derulo. Fans were treated to mind-blowing sets by Saudi and Arab musicians. The BIG BEAST stage, which is where all these artists performed, also set a World Record for the World’s Largest Music Stage.


To host an event with this kind of attendance number it required an incredible team. Here are some facts about the event from Peter Harrison, Managing Director of FGH Security LTD.


The World Record for the worlds biggest festival gate may also have been set:

• 150m wide

• A team of 150 security operatives.

• 100% search

• Over 12,000 people per hour


We left a legacy and upskilled the local workforce in allsorts, including:

• search techniques

• X-ray machines and metal detectors

• flow rates

• cordons

• fill rates

• emergency procedures

• required exit widths

(Image Source - Peter Harrison)


Let's have a look at the stage production that was needed for a festival of this size.


ER Productions was one of the suppliers for Soundstorm who recently shared their part in the production.


“We are proud to be one of a handful of suppliers selected to supply all 7 stages. Together ER Productions and Pyrojunkies installed, programmed and operated over

  • 430 Lasers,

  • 100 Smoke Machines,

  • 80 Stadium Shot Extreme and Stadium Shot MKII,

  • 60 x Stadium Blasters,

  • 20 x Stadium Flames,

  • 20 x Wave Flames,

  • 20 x G-Flames,

  • 20 x Flamblazer

  • Over 11,000 pieces of Pyro.

  • With a crew of 49 across a 6 week period we hit cue after cue to over 200 Artist's from around the globe.



Delivering virtual programming sessions for SoundStorm in Saudi Arabia was essential. Not only for touring Artists to get their shows ready but for our own teams to update and make changes to their show files during daylight hours.


ER Productions and Pyrojunkies supplied 2 pre-vis suites 1 located behind main stage Big Beast and 1 behind Dance Beast . Both suites were running @depence2 for lasers and sfx.”



Saudi Arabia has made waves in the event industry throwing some of the biggest events the world has ever seen. Riyadh season is still ongoing and we can't wait to see the impact this has had on the economy. With the government's intention to increase spending within the kingdom to 115 billion by 2030, the entertainment industry is only going to grow stronger in this region.



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References


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-21/saudi-arabia-s-entertainment-blowout-is-twice-as-big-this-year


https://www.facebook.com/erlasersandsfx/posts/1816427628562353


https://www.facebook.com/watch/?ref=saved&v=980764259486330


https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6878664661781291008/


https://www.thetravelmagazine.net/mdlbeast-soundstorm-festival-riyadh-saudi-arabia.html


https://www.abouther.com/node/45221/people/features/mdlbeast-breaks-attendance-records


https://english.alarabiya.net/features/2017/05/03/Read-the-full-transcript-of-Mohammed-Bin-Salman-s-interview


https://www.gea.gov.sa/en/


https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/06/07/saudi-arabia-s-religious-reforms-are-touching-nothing-but-changing-everything-pub-84650


https://www.spa.gov.sa/1875202


https://ecfr.eu/publication/saudi_first_how_hyper_nationalism_is_transforming_saudi_arabia/


https://www.iexplore.com/articles/travel-guides/middle-east/saudi-arabia/history-and-culture


https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-arabia-all-you-need-to-know-about-riyadh-season-1.1570450844952



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