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.

"It is exciting to see a stage being built in an area you are familiar with, knowing that tomorrow, a huge band is going to play there,” says Ibrahim as he drives around Dubai Festival City, an area that holds rocking concert memories for him.

“I do love going to Abu Dhabi, but it would be nice to have that excitement of going to a concert in Dubai, seeing my favourite band perform on a stage built in my city’s backyard,” he adds, while Metallica’s Enter Sandman plays in his shabby Wrangler.

Ibrahim is not the only concertgoer suffering from nostalgia. In fact, the common perception on the streets is that money is being flashed around with a blank yet chunky chequebook, flooding the deserts of nearby Abu Dhabi with the A-lists of music.

Everyone knows who the feeder is: Flash Entertainment. The Abu Dhabi-based event organising company has been responsible for bringing over the likes of British alternative band Coldplay, metal kings Metallica, and, most recently of all, pop queen Madonna, who is set to take the capital’s stage in June.

So where’s the money coming from?

Think again before making the assumption that moneybags Mubadala is the backer.
The investment company, which is owned by Abu Dhabi government, no longer sponsors Flash’s concerts, contrary to what most people may believe.

John Lickrish, the managing director of Flash Entertainment, says that this has been the case for four years now.

“We do not have any back-up from Mubadala. Concerts were run out of there at one point, but not anymore. It stopped in 2008,” he points out.

Instead, Flash is now part of Abu Dhabi’s government-backed media free zone, Twofour54.

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Posted by: procan

Eagles...... hold on a minute Mick, first glad to meet a music and concert lover as I feel I am. Eagles had 5 number 1 hits and many more hits that did not meet the number one position. 6 Grammy awards and when albums were relevant sold 120 million world wide. As the boys in the band say " Take it Easy"

Posted by: Mick

Iit feels really strange to need to support this debate but The Eagles are one of the most iconic bands in the history of music, let alone, spawning several very successful solo careers (Frey, Henley, Walsh and, to some degree, Shmidt and Meisner....Felder not so much).
Any list in the world will have The Eagles as one of the most influential since music recording. I just saw one list where they were ranked (based on numerous elements) 7th of the top 100 bands in history beating out U2, The Doors, Bob Marley, The Police etc.) and almost always featured in any top 100 if not 50. The love for the Eagles by hundreds of millions of people is not based on their ability to purchase their albums. I'm not sure we have had many artists here with that legacy, if any. Hotel California is the 37th best selling album in history. Current relevance aside, they are still daily standards of play across the world's radio stations having been played millions of times (millions for Henley too)

Posted by: Mick

I agree with the Ibrahim on this. It would be nice to see more concerts come to Dubai. The majority of concert-goers, I'm sure, are Dubaiers....
Abu Dhabi has been notorious for post-concert issues (insane lack of taxis, non-concert-going rubberneckers driving around to gawk at the wildlife). All of this including the need to stay in a hotel for the (most likely) 75%+ that come from Dubai.
The concerts that I've been to at Sevens stadium and Festival City (Dubai "Jazz" Festival) have been perfection in organisation. I did feel bad when Brian May of legends Queen was forced to play in a parking lot in Fest City. He made a point of mentioning it onstage. A true legend in a carpark.
Dubai all the way, though. Not AUH. Please get more here. I say this but its already getting better. Good job. Still not gonna shell out 200 bucks for a 90's one hit wonder that we get too much of here. Keep Train, Coldplay, Metallica, Eagles, Kooks, Kasabian comin! Someone look into Dave Matthews

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