Saudi entertainment body sets ‘sweet spot’ concert ticket prices

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Aziz, works at a local law firm and is also studying, excited about attending the first-ever Yanni concert in Jeddah. (AN photo)
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Anmar Khurais pleased to be part of the audience at the grand event. (AN photo)
Updated 04 December 2017

Saudi entertainment body sets ‘sweet spot’ concert ticket prices

JEDDAH: The General Entertainment Authority (GEA), a recently established entity on the local Saudi scene, is trying its best to accommodate local venues with international stars at reasonable prices for the audiences.
The GEA sponsored a concert with the Greek performer Yanni last Thursday and Friday in Jeddah, and it was a blast, merging Saudis and expats, young and old; all came together to enjoy the world-class music.
Both of Yanni’s Jeddah shows were sold out, with tickets ranging from SR200 ($53), SR350 and SR600, while VIP tickets cost SR900.
Duaa Badr, a 26-year-old Syrian who has lived in Saudi most her life, told Arab News that she was really excited about what’s now happening in Saudi Arabia. “All these concerts and events, we’re doing things we used to travel to do,” said Badr, who occupied a Zone C seat and thought her ticket was reasonably priced.
“I expected a successful show; people attending are music lovers and it’s great to take part in it.”
On a different note, Mostafa Al-Shaqi, a 57-year-old consultant doctor, spoke to Arab News as he waited for his wife in the VIP lounge. “This is only the start of something great and we can expect even more at the great King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).”
“This exceeded my expectations,” added Anmar Khurais, a 36-year-old freelancer who went along to say: “A Yanni concert is so far-sighted and something I’d assumed to be way out of reach. VIP tickets prices were reasonable when compared to other countries.”
Nisreen Hamdan from Jordan commended the GEA’s choice for bringing Yanni to Jeddah: “It’s a transcendence,” she said. “Such a successful concert, organizers did an amazing job and I hope we see more shows of this caliber in the future.”
Ibrahim from Syria traveled all the way from Madinah to attend the concert. “I’ve been a Yanni fan since I was 15 years old,” he told Arab News. “It’s been a dream of mine to see him live. It’s my first concert ever and I’m so happy I experienced it,” he added, from a second row seat that cost him less than a nice meal at a fancy Jeddah restaurant.

EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

Updated 11 min 56 sec ago

EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

  • Singer-songwriter Tamtam has released a music video to coincide with the day her fellow countrywomen make history
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

JEDDAH: With the long-awaited day when Saudi women can finally drive drawing near, a Saudi singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles has written a song to mark the historic occasion.

Called simply “Drive,” Tamtam’s take on the breakthrough reform covers a range of emotions: Happiness, pride and even surprise.

Millions around the world shared the news that Saudi women would be allowed to drive when it was announced last fall, and with all the preparations taking place, the singer wanted to take part in the best way she could. So she wrote the lyrics to a song that mirrored the exciting events ahead.

Tamtam’s release focuses on the themes of freedom, equality and empowerment that she has explored in her music since the start of her career in 2012.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

“If I had to use one word to describe the feeling, it would be hope. Women in Saudi are ready to have a bigger voice and become more independent.

“This is a huge step forward for all of us. The country is showing us that they know we are ready, and they are here to support us and help launch us forward,” said Tamtam. 

Her song’s lyrics include the words: “We know what we want, we know it’s our time, let go of past perceptions, tomorrow is mine, we got drive” — suggesting that it’s time to look forward and stop looking back at what once was.

The verse mirrors the narrative many Saudis are sharing with the world, empowered by the dramatic changes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accomplishing with Vision 2030 and beyond. 

Tamtam, inspired by the late Michael Jackson, started singing aged 15. She wrote her first single, “Little Girl,” while attending high school in California after her family moved to the US from Riyadh. Her singing and songwriting have been influenced by events around her, always related to current issues with a twist of optimism. 

Whether it’s her strong vocals or hauntingly beautiful voice, Tamtam’s music transcends expectations. This young Saudi is singing and making a name for herself in the City of Angels, and her positive energy is reflected in her music.

As Saudis embrace a host of reforms, Tamtam believes many Westerners are shocked by the news. Yet people forget that Saudi is a relatively young country and more good changes will come, she said. 

“With hope comes more aspirations, dreams, new achievements and positive energy.”

The “Drive” video is uplifting, with playful, artistic imagery, and soulful and empowering vocals. The singer and her friends wear white, representing peace and femininity, and drive a yellow Ford Mustang convertible (Tamtam’s dream car). 

“Whenever I’m in a car, especially if there is traffic or it’s a long drive, I always turn on music to put me in a better mood. Driving is so much more enjoyable with music,” said Tamtam. “I hope that this song will be blasting through car speakers everywhere.” 

So the question is: Will Tamtam get her Saudi license, too?

“Yes, I can’t wait,” is the answer, obviously.