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Thu 10 Nov 2016 04:16 PM

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Revealed: 5 minutes with the man behind Sensation Dubai 2016

Nicolas Vandenabeele is the director of Envie Events, the firm behind mega-dance global event Sensation

Revealed: 5 minutes with the man behind Sensation Dubai 2016

Bringing the world’s biggest dance event to Dubai was not an easy task, but thanks to regional event firm Envie Events, 20,000 of the genre’s aficionados can enjoy Sensation Dubai 2016 in the midst of the city’s desert on Friday November 11.

The event will feature DJs including Mr. White and Afrojack. We talk to the company’s director Nicolas Vandenabeele on the eight-digit figure it took to setup this year’s stage, the staggering amount of attendees flying in from abroad and plans in the pipeline for the next big happening.

Why was Sensation brought to the Middle East and specifically Dubai?

Sensation is an institution in the world of dance events. They have been travelling the world for quite some time and Dubai was always on their bucket list for many years. We [Envie Events] have a history with the company behind Sensation, ID&T.

The day we arrived in Dubai, we started working on setting up the event here. It took us two years before we could announce it in 2014. I still remember the first reactions of some of the partners when we presented them the project stating, “Are you going to do that in Dubai??”

Was the process of bringing Sensation to Dubai difficult? What were some of the challenges of bringing the event to the city?

It was a 2 year long journey before we could announce our first edition. Dubai has different rules and regulations than Europe. For all government bodies, this was also a challenge considering an event of this magnitude had never happened before. We had to rely on third party suppliers which made the first year a challenge and was also a great lesson for us.

We now have all our partners and suppliers in line and they know exactly what we want and how we want it. Another thing is, Dubai has progressed in the past few years at a pace never seen before. There are so many safety regulations that are essential to making this city what it is.

This is at the same a small hurdle for us considering, unlike Europe, there are many rules and protocols that are new to us.


You’ve said earlier your only concern in the UAE market is artists are not valued as they should be. Why do you think that is the case?

This market is spoilt in terms of artists! Every week you have a big artist in this city. In a lot of cases, they are performing in night clubs where they perform for a certain demographic of this market.

We’re trying to give a platform for the artists so they can communicate with every demographic. It is all about bringing the best artists, creating excitement and promoting the magnitude of it. In clubs you can’t really do that keeping in mind the space constraint. People are not excited anymore and we at Envie Events want to change that.

How much will it cost to set up Sensation in Dubai in 2016?

This year, the event is massive and bigger than the last two editions. We are expecting the venue Bab Al Shams arena to be packed with over 20,000 people. The concept is ‘Desert Dome’ and hence, the venue will be transformed into a dome-like structure. The structure is massive and involves a very expensive production. This edition has costed us an eight-digit figure in UAE Dirhams.

How does the Dubai crowd differ, if it does, than the crowd in Europe?

There’s a big difference indeed! In Europe, people are very alike as they all grew up together. Dubai, however, is a land of different nationalities, cultures, languages, which makes it much more challenging to meet the likes and dislikes of everyone. Analysing this market is not so easy.

We try to unite everyone through music. For Sensation Dubai, 60 per cent of our visitors fly in from abroad. Dubai has become a popular hub due to the large scale events.


Why did you choose Bab Al Shams arena for your 2016 location?

When we decided to move to the desert (Bab Al Shams), a lot of our partners thought we were crazy saying no one would drive down that far. But, the day we announced the location, people were more excited than ever. Through our experience we have learnt that people want something new. They want to have difference experiences without having to visit the same places again.  Tickets sales went through the roof within a week after it went live!

How will Sensation Dubai 2016 differ from previous Sensation events?

The theme is ‘Desert Dome’. The concept revolves around the desert experience with no city lights. It is just you and thousands of other music lovers dressed in white under the desert sky. It is going to be magical! 

What is the best and worst thing about being in the entertainment industry in Dubai?

I believe one should do what they love. For me, it is music and events, and I live for this business. I have one goal and that is to bring smiles around. I believe that this is my purpose on earth and through these events I can achieve that.

Worst thing about this industry is this being a late buyers’ market which impacts the complete event. You estimate a total number of visitors, based on which you design your floorplan.

In Dubai, it is possible to sell even 10,000 tickets in the week before the event. This reflects very heavily on the floorplan. We work hard to ensure everybody has an amazing experience. The late buyer’s mentality makes this very challenging and stressful.


What other events are you bringing to Dubai? Can you reveal details?

This year we already hosted DJ shows of Hardwell & Armin Van Buuren. We are bringing down the former members of Swedish House Mafia – Axwell & Ingrosso to Meydan Dubai this New Year’s Eve.

We have bigger plans in store for the year to come. We love this city and want to bring the best every year.

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