Post pandemic, Saudi music events industry finds its groove

Organized by the general entertainment Authority, riyadh season 2021 was held between october 2021 and march 2022. (Ormania)
Organized by the general entertainment Authority, riyadh season 2021 was held between october 2021 and march 2022. (Ormania)
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Updated 22 May 2022

Post pandemic, Saudi music events industry finds its groove

Organized by the general entertainment Authority, riyadh season 2021 was held between october 2021 and march 2022. (Ormania)
  • The sector is set to become the biggest driver of the domestic entertainment business

RIYADH: If the number of events held at the Riyadh Season entertainment festival is any measure of success, then Saudi Arabia’s live music industry is set to become the biggest driver of the domestic entertainment business.

Organized by the General Entertainment Authority, Riyadh Season 2021 was held between Oct. 2021 and March 2022. It witnessed 7,500 diversified entertainment events, including concerts, exhibitions and theatrical shows, both Arab and international.

I’ve never in 30 years worked on a project with such scope. MDLBeast has a vision of excellence at a world- class level, backed up with the effort and determination required to achieve that.

Alex reardon, Creative director at Silent House

The festival featured Egyptian singers Mohamed Ramadan and Tamer Hosny, Bollywood actor Salman Khan and US rapper Pitbull, who attracted an audience of 750,000.

Other KSA-based music events include Riyadh’s annual SoundStorm, now literally the world’s largest Electronic Dance Music festival, in December 2021, and a succession of concerts alongside Jeddah’s recent Formula One races featuring American supergroup the Black Eyed Peas and R&B star Chris Brown, among others. In addition, Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias and One Republic have all performed in Saudi Arabia.

As a focal point of the Vision 2030 reform program, the Kingdom’s entertainment sector is seeing over $64 billion in investment, with the live music industry a key beneficiary.




As a focal point of the Vision 2030 reform program, the Kingdom’s entertainment sector is seeing over $64 billion in investment, with the live music industry a key beneficiary. (Getty Images)

According to Saudi Arabia’s Music Commission, a department of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, the Kingdom will create about 65,000 music-related jobs within the next eight years. Moreover, it is working toward enabling the music sector to contribute 1 percent to the Kingdom’s economy by 2030.

Calm after the storm

A prime mover of this burgeoning industry is Jeddah-based MDLBeast, the producer of SoundStorm and Formula One concerts. The company describes itself as “a global music and new media platform with music culture at its core and a home for creators and music lovers.”

One such creator is Michael ‘Curly’ Jobson, a legendary figure in the global live music business. In his youth a guitarist with UK indie band Echo & the Bunnymen, Jobson has been a music tour manager for decades and, in February 2020, was appointed MDLBeast’s Executive Director of Events.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Riyadh Season 2021 was held between October 2021 and March 2022. It witnessed 7,500 diversified entertainment events, including concerts, exhibitions and theatrical shows, both Arab and international.

• The festival featured Egyptian singers Mohamed Ramadan and Tamer Hosny, Bollywood actor Salman Khan and US rapper Pitbull, who attracted an audience of 750,000.

• According to Saudi Arabia’s Music Commission, a department of the Ministry of Culture, the Kingdom will create about 65,000 music-related jobs within the next eight years. Moreover, it is working toward enabling the music sector to contribute 1 percent to the economy by 2030.

“We put on events of any kind — musical, corporate, sports — from the concept to the pitch through to the design, operations and bringing it to fruition,” Jobson told Arab News.

This approach relies upon a host of contractors to provide solutions from plumbing and drainage to laying of asphalt and electrical installations.




Egyptian singer Mohamed Ramadan. (Youtube Screenshot)

SoundStorm, for example, involved Saudi construction firm Al Arrab, Lebanese events services provider Fiesta and Riyadh-based architecture firm Key Design, among many other local and regional firms.

And from Los Angeles came Silent House, a production design firm that conceives and builds staging for global headliners such as Harry Styles, Rihanna and Bruno Mars and which handled the overall design of SoundStorm 2021.

“I’ve never in 30 years worked on a project with such scope,” Silent House creative director Alex Reardon told Arab News. “MDL Beast has a vision of excellence at a world-class level, backed up with the effort and determination required to achieve that.”

Jobson sees the Kingdom’s music events sector in historical terms with reference to its future and its past.

“2030 is the date presented for a particular level of growth in Saudi Arabia, but I’m seeing something a little bit different, which is tourism becoming the lifeblood of the Kingdom, and with tourism comes the demand for entertainment,” he said.

“The Red Sea coastline goes from the Egyptian border to the Yemen, which is akin to the Florida Keys to Canada. And think what happened in the last 300 years up that coastline!

“I’m not sure it’s any different here with the rising population and the increasing numbers of youth with an equally huge appetite for entertainment.

“We need to focus on making Saudi Arabia a regular touring destination – rather than a one-off stop – so that performers go from Athens to Alexandria to Jeddah to Riyadh and then onwards to Asia, Australia and California.”

Raising the bar

Saudi Arabia’s Assistant Minister for Tourism, Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, also sees music and tourism as two mutually supportive revenue streams for the Kingdom in its transition from dependence upon oil to a more diverse and creative economy.

“You are talking about 25 percent of the UK and US population traveling to attend at least one music festival a year,” Princess Haifa said at the XP Music Conference, held in Riyadh in December 2021.

“This tells you where the world is shifting. From hosting 101 concerts in Saudi Arabia in 2019, we are looking at increasing that number by 500 or 600 percent from 2022,” she added.

Clearly, this exponential growth cannot happen without nurturing local talent and expertise. Jobson believes that knowledge transfer and a permanent ecosystem of niche companies — as opposed to the temporary hiring of foreign contractors and equipment — is the only way forward for the Kingdom.

“The western music industry started as a modern business model in the 1950s with recording, publishing and venue management. With that came PA systems, lighting designers, set designers and sound engineers,” said Jobson.

“All of this is a brand-new thing in Saudi Arabia. It’s only a couple of years since the very forward-thinking crown prince has opened it up to us.”

Reardon is optimistic regarding the advent of a fully-fledged music events industry in Saudi Arabia.

“I think the base level commitment to excellence will not change,” he said. “There’s been a huge learning curve for those of us coming from our side of the planet and those in the Kingdom.

“We’re learning from each other and about each other in a very collaborative way, which means that the seedbed for growth is very fertile.

“We can bring our decades of experience and work very well with people in the Kingdom to create successes in live entertainment that would be almost impossible in Western Europe and North America.”

 


Commodities Update — Gold prices edge up; G7 leaders to agree on import ban on Russian gold

Commodities Update — Gold prices edge up; G7 leaders to agree on import ban on Russian gold
Updated 13 sec ago

Commodities Update — Gold prices edge up; G7 leaders to agree on import ban on Russian gold

Commodities Update — Gold prices edge up; G7 leaders to agree on import ban on Russian gold

RIYADH: Gold edged up on Friday as the dollar retreated and recession fears buoyed its safe-haven appeal, but looming interest rate hikes set the non-yielding asset on course for a weekly dip.

Spot gold rose is currently priced at $1,826.88 per ounce, while US gold futures are priced at $1,830.30.

Biden, G7 leaders to ban Russian gold imports: sources

US President Joe Biden and his G7 counterparts will agree on an import ban on new gold from Russia as they broaden sanctions against Moscow for its war against Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Saturday.

The US has rallied the world in imposing swift and significant economic costs on Russia to deny President Vladimir Putin the revenue he needs to fund his war.

According to the source, the US Treasury Department will issue a determination to prohibit the import of new gold into the US on Tuesday, which will further isolate Russia from the global economy by preventing its participation in the gold market.

Soy, Grains up

US soybean futures rose on Friday, snapping a streak of four negative sessions, on a round of bargain buying and short-covering, traders said.

Corn also was higher, with bargain buying featured after the market fell 3.3 percent over the previous four sessions.

Gains in the new-crop contracts outpaced the nearby contract as traders unwound some bull spreads as they monitored crop development in the US Midwest.

Wheat futures fell, pressured by the ongoing harvest in winter wheat-growing areas of the US.

Chicago Board of Trade July soybean futures settled up 17-1/2 cents at $16.10-3/4 a bushel.

Strength in the crude oil market added support to soybeans.

CBOT July corn futures were up 3-1/2 cents at $7.50-1/4 a bushel. The December contract gained 18-1/2 cents to $6.74.

Stress from dryness could spread to about 40 percent of US corn and soy next week before showers curb driest areas to less than one-third of the belt, Commodity Weather Group said in a note.

CBOT July soft red winter wheat was down 13-1/2 cents at $9.23-3/4, and hard red winter wheat for July delivery was 12 cents lower at $9.93 a bushel.

(With input from Reuters)


Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Celsius prepares for bankruptcy; $100m heist hits crypto firm Harmony

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Celsius prepares for bankruptcy; $100m heist hits crypto firm Harmony
Updated 20 min 3 sec ago

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Celsius prepares for bankruptcy; $100m heist hits crypto firm Harmony

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Celsius prepares for bankruptcy; $100m heist hits crypto firm Harmony

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Sunday, rising by 0.93 percent to $21,420.15 as of 8:10 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,237.88, rising by 1.38 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Celsius Network hires advisers to prepare for bankruptcy 

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Celsius Network LLC hired restructuring experts from Alvarez & Marsal to advise on a potential bankruptcy filing.

Early this month, the New Jersey-based cryptocurrency lending company froze withdrawals and transfers due to “extreme” market conditions.

CoinDesk reported that Goldman Sachs plans to raise $2 billion from investors to buy Celsius’ distressed assets.

If the cryptocurrency lender files for bankruptcy, investors can buy the assets at potential discounts, according to a report citing two sources.

As of last month, Celsius had assets worth $11.8 billion.

Investors have dumped risky assets amid fears that rate hikes could plunge the economy into recession, leading to extreme volatility in digital assets in recent months.

A $100 million heist hits US crypto firm Harmony

In the latest cyber heist on a long-targeted sector, US-based crypto firm Harmony said hackers stole around $100 million in digital coins from one of its key products, Reuters reported.

The company develops blockchains for decentralized finance, peer-to-peer sites offering loans and other services without banks’ traditional gatekeepers, and non-fungible tokens.

According to the company, the heist targeted its Horizon bridge, which transfers crypto between different blockchains.

According to Harmony, it has been working with forensic experts and national authorities to identify the culprit and retrieve the stolen funds.

Harmony said its global team was “working around the clock to address the issue.”

According to Elliptic, which tracks publicly visible blockchain data, the hackers stole Ether, Tether, and USD Coin from Harmony, which they later traded for ether using decentralized exchanges.

(With inputs from Reuters)

 

 


Here’s what you need to know before Tadawul trading on Sunday

Here’s what you need to know before Tadawul trading on Sunday
Updated 23 min 56 sec ago

Here’s what you need to know before Tadawul trading on Sunday

Here’s what you need to know before Tadawul trading on Sunday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's stock market declined to one of its lowest levels in months last week due to concerns that rising interest rates could push the global economy into recession.

TASI, the main index, fell for a second consecutive day on Thursday to end 0.1 percent lower at 11,311 points, while the parallel Nomu market added 0.4 percent to 20,728.

Qatar led the fall in the Gulf with a 1.6 percent decline, followed by a 1.1 percent drop in Dubai’s stock index.

Stock exchanges of Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait all lost between 0.2 and 0.7 percent.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s index EGX30 closed 01.8 percent lower.

Oil prices rose on Friday, buoyed by tight supply. Brent crude settled at $113.12 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate reached $107.62 a barrel.

Stock news

Mouwasat Medical Services Co. closed a SR295 million ($79 million) deal with Tareg Al-Jaafari Contracting Co. for the construction of a hospital in Yanbu industrial city

Methanol Chemicals Co. said it would pay SR273 million in total as an early loan repayment to the Saudi Industrial Development Fund and lending banks

The Saudi Stock Exchange will launch futures trading on single stocks on July 4, as its second derivatives product after introducing index futures in late 2020

Calendar

June 26, 2022

Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co.’s subscription to new shares ends

June 27, 2022

End of Alamar Foods’ IPO book-building

Retal Urban Development Co. will start trading its shares on TASI

June 28, 2022

End of the Saudi Investment Bank’s Sukuk offering

July 4, 2022

Start of single-stock futures trading on Tadawul


Saudi Exchange to allow single-stock futures in July on selected shares to bolster liquidity

Saudi Exchange to allow single-stock futures in July on selected shares to bolster liquidity
Updated 57 min 47 sec ago

Saudi Exchange to allow single-stock futures in July on selected shares to bolster liquidity

Saudi Exchange to allow single-stock futures in July on selected shares to bolster liquidity

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange will launch futures trading on single stocks on July 4, amid efforts to bolster liquidity and lure investors into the region’s biggest bourse.

It added that the first tranche of the futures contracts will include Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Aramco, Saudi National Bank, Alinma Bank, SABIC, Saudi Kayan, Saudi Telecom Co., Saudi Electricity Co., Almarai, and Ma’aden. 

A single-stock future is a type of futures contract between two parties to exchange a specified number of stocks in a company for a price agreed today with delivery occurring at a specified future date.

The move will “enable local and international investors to hedge and manage portfolio risks more effectively as well as diversify products available for trading and hedging in the market,” Tadawul said in a statement.

Single-stock futures will be the second derivatives product on the Kingdom’s bourse, after the launch of index futures in late 2020.


Oil Updates — Oil settled up; G7 considering ways of capping Russian oil price; US drillers add oil and gas rigs for a record 23 months

Oil Updates — Oil settled up; G7 considering ways of capping Russian oil price; US drillers add oil and gas rigs for a record 23 months
Updated 26 June 2022

Oil Updates — Oil settled up; G7 considering ways of capping Russian oil price; US drillers add oil and gas rigs for a record 23 months

Oil Updates — Oil settled up; G7 considering ways of capping Russian oil price; US drillers add oil and gas rigs for a record 23 months

RIYADH: Oil prices settled up by more than $3 a barrel on Friday, supported by tight supply, but they notched their second weekly decline on concern that rising interest rates could push the world economy into recession.

Brent crude settled up $3.07, or 2.8 percent, at $113.12 a barrel by 12:10 p.m. EDT. US West Texas Intermediate crude settled up $3.35, or 3.2 percent, at $107.62.

No government guidance on pricing policy: Incoming Petrobras CEO 

The incoming CEO of Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras told a corporate committee he has not received any guidance from the government on changing the firm’s fuel pricing policy, a document showed on Saturday.

Caio Mario Paes de Andrade, a former economy ministry official appointed by President Jair Bolsonaro to run Petrobras, was approved by the eligibility committee on Friday, a key step for him to take the reins of the company.

The minutes of the meeting, published by Petrobras on Saturday, showed the committee had asked Andrade about the company’s pricing policy, a topic that helped bring down three CEOs during Bolsonaro’s tenure as price hikes created tensions with the far-right leader.

“I have no specific or general guidance from the controlling shareholder or any other shareholder in the sense of changing the company’s pricing policy,” Andrade said.

He is on the verge of taking over as CEO a month after he was named by Bolsonaro, awaiting a board vote on June 27.

G7 considering ways of capping Russian oil price

Leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies are having “very constructive” discussions on a possible cap on Russian oil imports, a German government official said on Saturday shortly before the start of the annual three-day G7 summit.

The proposal is part of broader G7 discussions on how to further crank up the pressure on the Kremlin over its invasion of Ukraine without stoking global inflationary pressures.

The Ukraine war, energy and food shortages and the darkening global economic outlook are expected to dominate the agenda of the summit that is taking place this year in Schloss Elmau, an alpine castle resort in southern Germany.

The US, Canada and Britain have already banned imports of Russian oil while EU leaders have agreed on an embargo that will take full effect by the end-2022 as part of sanctions on the Kremlin over its invasion of Ukraine.

With energy prices soaring though, the West fears such embargoes will not actually put a dent in Russia’s war chest as the country earns more from exports even as volumes fall.

A price cap could solve that dilemma, while also avoiding further restricting oil supply and fueling inflation, officials say, but for it to work, it requires buy-in from heavy importers like India and China.

“We are on a good path to reach an agreement,” the official said.

The official said the G7 was also discussing the need to combine ambitious climate goals with the need for some countries to explore new gas fields as Europe rushed to wean itself off Russian gas imports.

US drillers add oil and gas rigs for a record 23 months

US energy firms this week added oil and natural gas rigs for a second week in a row, in a record 23-month streak of increases, as high crude prices and prodding by the government prompted drillers to return to the well pad.

The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose 13 to 753 in the week to June 24, its highest since March 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co. said in its closely followed report on Friday.

Baker Hughes said that puts the total rig count up 283, or 60 percent, over this time last year.

US oil rigs rose 10 to 594 this week, their highest since March 2020, while gas rigs gained three to 157, their highest since September 2019.

That put the overall oil and gas rig count up for a record 23 months in a row, gaining 26 in June. It also put the count up for seven quarters in a row, the longest streak of gains since 2011.

The oil rig count was up for a record 22 months in a row, rising 20 in June. It also increased for the seventh quarter, the most quarters since 2012.

The gas rig count rose by six in June, rising for a 10th month in a row, tying the record set in May 2010. It also put the gas count up for seven quarters in a row, matching the record set in 2004.

(With inputs from Reuters)