EDM star Marshmello’s first Saudi gig is anything but mellow

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Marshmello performing at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Basketball Arena at King Abdullah Sport City on Wednesday. (Supplied photo)
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Marshmello performing at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Basketball Arena at King Abdullah Sport City on Wednesday. (Supplied photo)
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Marshmello performing at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Basketball Arena at King Abdullah Sport City on Wednesday. (Supplied photo)
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Marshmello performing at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Basketball Arena at King Abdullah Sport City on Wednesday. (Supplied photo)
Updated 11 July 2019
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EDM star Marshmello’s first Saudi gig is anything but mellow

  • Masked DJ and producer gets Jeddah crowd pumped up during a show packed with his hits
  • Saudi DJ duo Dish Dash kick the evening off with a well-received opening set

JEDDAH: American EDM artist Marshmello enthralled fans in Jeddah with a brilliant live performance on Wednesday night, his first in Saudi Arabia.

The evening began with a well-received opening set from acclaimed Saudi DJ duo Dish Dash, who are no strangers to performing in front of large crowds in the Kingdom.

After they finished up, the stage was set for the main attraction, and the eager fans who had filled the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Basketball Arena at King Abdullah Sport City began to chant his name. The chant turned to cheers when the opening bars of his song “Wolves,” featuring Selena Gomez, filled the venue, and when Marshmello appeared on stage the crowd erupted and many abandoned their seats.

Along with his undoubted musical talents, the mystery surrounding Marshmello’s peculiar stage persona has helped to fuel his rise to fame as a producer and DJ. His identity is hidden by a light-up, marshmallow-shaped helmet that completely covers his head, and he speaks as little as possible, happy to let his music do the talking.

Many people in the crowd were wearing replicas of his mask and others took selfies with them. Some fans danced along to the star’s music, at times attracting almost as much attention as their hero on stage.

One fan who attended the gig wearing a replica Marshmello outfit — and who, like the star, would not reveal their real identity — said: “I always cosplay as Marshmello at all the comic cons and everything, so him coming here was such good news I couldn’t believe it at first.”

Marshmello played all his best-known hits and remixes, including “Happier,” featuring Bastille, and “Silence” featuring Khalid. During the latter, he encouraged the audience to sing alternate lines, and throughout the show he kept the crowd engaged and energized by asking them to sing along and keep their hands up in the air.

Marshmello performing at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Basketball Arena at King Abdullah Sport City on Wednesday. (Supplied photo)

His performance was filled with enthusiasm and energy, but when it finally came to the end it seemed very abrupt — he simply snapped a photo of his fans and left the stage. The audience cheered and clapped in the hope that he would return for an encore, but it was in vain.

As the crowd filed out of the venue, some of the Marshmello cosplayers danced outside to provide further entertainment for fans still buzzing with excitement.

“Seeing Marshmello in real life was so much better” than simply listening to his music, said Basma Mohammad, 30, as he left. “I just couldn’t sit down throughout the whole concert.”


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.