Time for Dubai to relax venue licencing laws, says club owner

"Diversity would increase massively and allow acts to pop in for surprise appearances"

The burgeoning grassroots live music business in Dubai needs relaxation of licencing laws and more support from the public to make it an even bigger long-term success, says the man behind the most successful live music venue in the city.

Stereo Arcade at JBR is a venue split in two – one half a relaxed nightclub and the other an evening live music venue.

The goal has always been to have local UAE acts of all genres playing every night of the year, but despite having more than 40 acts on the roster this is still something that has yet to be consistently realised.

Samer Hamadeh, the founder and owner of Stereo Arcade, said: “The difficulty is that live singers and bands need to have a new licence for every venue they play, which is a lot of paperwork.

“Ideally I would like to have a licence for a venue and one for the artist. This would mean Stereo Arcade could choose from any live act licenced in Dubai. The diversity would increase massively and allow acts to pop in for surprise appearances.

“The bottom line is the whole operation would be much more cost effective – allowing us to put more resources into developing grassroots music in Dubai and promoting them.”

In the past five years, an emerging generation of local music talent, such as The Boxtones and Abri, has begun to make a real impact in the city.

Samer said: “We have seen the whole local live music scene really grow, but it is as the point now where we need new audiences. I think by getting new parts of society to come, this will happen and we need both the support of the public and administrators.”

In the past 12 months, a series of one-off live music events at Stereo Arcade have shown the passion locally for a variety of genres.

A folk music festival at the venue was expected to draw a small audience, but hundreds of fans from all nationalities turned out – a feat repeated for local hip-hop.

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