Music for the masses: The UAE's concert industry

As the world’s biggest pop stars tread a path to Abu Dhabi, Dubai party goers are feeling short-changed. Is there a monopoly in the UAE’s concert industry?

Flash has been responsible for bringing over bands such as metal kings Metallica.

Flash has been responsible for bringing over bands such as metal kings Metallica.

However, that - it seems - is only of short-term benefit to him.

“We would all benefit from a thriving market, where everyone would be putting on events…It allows us to do the events that we need to do…to stay afloat and stay profitable, but it would be great for the industry and great for the people that like to go out if there was more competition and if there was more independent and privately owned companies that could afford to do the business,” he adds.

However, Lickrish does not pigeonhole Flash as a company that has ruined the successes of other promoters. At the end of the day, it seems like fair play in his mind.

“Obviously, there was an opportunity to provide a better environment and a better product, and we have done that,” he says. “We have not gotten in the way; there was a gap in the marketplace, we saw [it] and we stepped into it.”

He adds: “If [the promoters] aren’t meeting the consumers’ demand, then they are failing themselves. No one is taking over for them and no one is pushing them out of the way. They just failed to do the job.”

Lickrish insists that Flash have simply made the business perform better.

“We have not inflated the prices, we have just made the business perform better, and of course, making the business perform better means that you are going to increase your revenues and reduce your costs. That means more money for the artist in the end on split deals, that’s just a global reality,” he says.

“Artists are not going to be interested in coming here unless they can make a decent paycheck. Why are they going to fly six or seven hours from London and back, just to come to Abu Dhabi to make $20,000 — $50,000? They want to make sure they have maximised their revenue potential. So, we are not spoiling anything, we are just doing the job that we are supposed to do.”

He also believes that Flash covers 70 percent of the concert industry, if not more, when it comes to huge events.

“We are [either] monopolising [the industry] or people are not doing their jobs properly. It is one or the other,” Lickrish says.

Regardless of how nostalgic Ibrahim is of mosh-pit-filled nights in his own city, the fact remains that Flash Entertainment is currently at the top of its game.

However, with the company’s constant desire to grow and establish itself, there’s a chance that Ibrahim might one day see the UAE’s biggest concert promoter organising events in his own city.

As Lickrish says: “We are looking at how we can grow the business over the next five years and I think it would be a little bit premature to start revealing our strategies. But, of course, that means more event days, and how we establish that is either through diversification or through expansion.”

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