’The EAT Festival was to inspire hope and community spirit’

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Akthar Chanal performs at the opening day of EAT festival in Lahore, the festival ends each night with musical performances, a format that stays consistent in each city. (AN photo)
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Ali Azmat performing on night two of the EAT festival in Lahore. (AN photo)
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Asrar performing on the final night of EAT in Lahore. (AN photo)
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Asim Azhar takes to the stage on night two of the EAT festival in Lahore. (AN photo)
Updated 19 March 2018

’The EAT Festival was to inspire hope and community spirit’

LAHORE: This weekend in Lahore was one for the books as the last leg of the EAT Festival wrapped up. There were more than 80 stalls hosting a smorgasbord of delicious foods with cuisines from all over the world, and with fresh, new food hopefuls bringing their startups to the massive event.
EAT, which has been a much-anticipated event since it began five years ago in Karachi, included performances by Ali Azmat, Asim Azhar, Aura, Fuzion and Asrar and saw people of all ages and backgrounds in attendance.
“The EAT festivals were our way of giving back to our city by revitalising its public spaces. Food was an excuse to bring people together in the least controversial way,” said Omar Omari, one half of the duo behind CKO Events Architecture and the EAT Festival.
Along with partner Aslam Khan, he decided to invigorate what was a tense and bleak atmosphere not only at home in Karachi but all around Pakistan as well.
“At the time the EAT festivals were conceived the situation in Pakistan was at an all-time low. We wanted to inspire hope and inculcate community spirit between the people of Karachi. To let them feel that just for a few days our city and this place could be a getaway from all the negativity,” Omari said.
And the public, in Karachi, Lahore and the nation’s capital, responded in kind.
“The response has been phenomenal,” said Omari. “When you are at the festival and in that space you can feel the positivity and love, and that is something money can’t buy. It is the very same reason that people keep coming back and the platform has grown over the years.
“The festival has taken on the identity of a cause more then just a food festival. It was never meant to be a commercial venture. It has been a launching ground for young foodpreneurs who have chosen the EAT festivals as their launching pad. Many successful restaurants and eateries have been established from here and have gone on to open chains.”
The EAT Festival boasts tremendous numbers in the 300,000-plus range across all three cities — a feat that has not been reached by any other festival across Pakistan throughout the year.
A notable accomplishment for the festival is its inclusive atmosphere. EAT is not for only one class or one kind of customer. It has managed to bust through socioeconomic lines to include everyone. This has been a deliberate move by the creators of EAT.
“The EAT festival was very consciously designed to appeal to a high-end customer base in terms of the branding positioning,” said Omari. “However it was also consciously designed to be very inclusive in the choice of venue — an iconic public space that sat on both sides of the bridge, so to speak — the entry fee, the food prices and the egalitarian look and feel of all the stalls eliminated the pomp and show of higher-bracket restaurants.”
Additionally, the event has both been lauded and come under fire for its strict attendee rules. They made the entry for families only to encourage families, and particularly women, to come.
“The event is entirely families only,” Omari said. “Which is a better way of saying ‘no stags.’ We have faced a lot of criticism over the years for enforcing this, but we have found it a very successful way of making the space friendly and safe.”
The success of the festivals has kept the duo inspired for more to come.
“Plans are underway to take the brand international in order to spread the love,” Omari said. “In time the EAT festivals will be just a small drop in the ocean compared with the grander scheme.”
For more photos from the event, click here.

‘Get ready,’ Dammam: Pitbull promises fans that he’ll see them in Saudi Arabia on Friday

Updated 22 March 2019

‘Get ready,’ Dammam: Pitbull promises fans that he’ll see them in Saudi Arabia on Friday

  • The rapper was delayed temporarily in Iceland
  • Pitbull’s concert has been rescheduled to 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon

DAMMAM: American superstar rapper Pitbull apologized to Saudi fans for his rescheduled performance at Asharqiah Music Festival on Thursday with a video message on Friday morning, promising them that he would make it up to them on Friday afternoon.

The rapper was delayed temporarily in Iceland, causing him to miss his previously scheduled concert on Thursday night as part of the Sharqiah Season music festival.

In a video posted on Twitter, Pitbull held a hand over his heart as he explained the situation to fans. “I just wanna say, first of all, we apologize to Saudi Arabia. We got in a little jam here in Iceland, but Saudi Arabia, get ready, 'cause we’re coming to perform today at 4 p.m., special performance at Dammam. So make sure you keep your tickets, and get ready to have a great time. With that said once again, we appreciate the love. See y’all soon!”

In his stead, DJ Tiesto performed at the concert on Thursday night, followed by the scheduled performance by Canadian DJ Deadmau5. The performance, which ended at nearly 1 a.m., saw flocks of fans congregate at Dammam’s Life Park to enjoy the music.

Pitbull’s concert has been rescheduled to 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon instead, which will then be followed by the regularly scheduled performances of American rapper Akon, Moroccan-American rapper French Montana and Egyptian singer Amr Diab.

The festival also features food trucks, an entertainment area and  merchandise stalls.

The Asharqiah Music Festival is one of 83 events planned throughout the Eastern Province for the Sharqiah Season, which runs from March 14 to 30.