JEDDAH: After two days of incredible electronic sounds in Jeddah’s historic Old Town, the MDLBEAST’s boutique festival Balad Beast came to an end as more than 25,000 people tore up dance floors to performances by 70 top DJs.
Saturday featured some of the biggest names in music, including Busta Rhymes, Carl Cox and Lupe Fiasco.
Ramadan Alharatani, CEO of MDLBEAST, told Arab News: “We just wrapped up what we call ‘the loudest week in Riyadh’ less than a week ago and here we already are, bringing tens of thousands of people together to enjoy incredible music in the most breathtaking surroundings with Balad Beast.
“The atmosphere has been amazing and everyone from the crowds to the performing artists have embraced the uniqueness of Al-Balad’s incredible history. We’re happy to host our first boutique festival in a place that’s close to our hearts — Al-Balad, Jeddah.”
Visitors danced their hearts out in various outdoor areas and across five enormous stages with laser shows and state-of-the-art sound systems. Bringing together a range of stages and artists, Balad Beast offered music for every young man and woman — from hip-hop to indie to electronic.
Mishaal Tamer, a young Saudi pop star, described his Al-Balad performance as significant and special. “It’s always special when you play in your own town and my family has been living here for over 100 years. It was definitely a surreal feeling to sing in front of a crowd that understands you and allows you to express yourself.
“I am glad to be a part of such a historic event that happened in Al-Balad. I just can’t believe how beautiful the place looks with the digital art — it’s meaningful to me being artistic.
“I encourage young artists in the Kingdom who think it’s not possible to make a career out of music. Since there are so many amazing events coming out of Saudi Arabia, it is turning into a country of music festivals which in turn is encouraging artists like us to grow and flourish.”
Tamer composed a song for Balad Beast called “966,” an area code for Saudi. He also wrote a special song dedicated to his parents. Roots are important for the young singer as he discovered music through his family and country.
Mohammed Taher, a VIP guest who came to show his support to Tamer and Balad Beast, said: “ I never thought Al-Balad would be transformed this much. In fact, the whole country has transformed in recent years. I see the spirit is changing and it is turning quite exciting to witness how the people are getting engaged in these events and activities happening around. It’s the time when people should not only live the change but also make it by being a part of it.”
Aside from the amazing pop music played during the two days, residents of Al-Balad enthralled visitors with well-known traditional Hejazi music.
Mayor of the historic area in Al-Balad Mohammed Al-Yousef dressed in a thobe and traditional Hejazi orange turban. He stood at the area’s main gates, telling Arab News that it was his duty to welcome guests to Al-Balad.
He added: “We are so glad to have such a huge music festival in Al-Balad and we really thank the organizers for bringing it to our area. We really enjoyed the last two days and hope visitors and all those who were involved in this music festival have enjoyed all the alleyways of downtown Jeddah.”
Balad Beast also featured an eclectic array of fire shows and magical performances by Dubai’s best closeup magician Felipe Scherson, London-based magician Tom Elderfield and a juggler and illusionist from France, Jyoti Supernaturel.
Marsh Abayan, talent manager at 4freelancers, which organized the magic shows, said: “This is our second time coordinating with MDLBEAST and gathering the most extensive portfolio of entertainers around the globe for the VIP guests and the visitors. We look forward to coming next year again with new talent and entertaining shows.”
Hanna Al-Abdullah, 25, who attended the Balad Beast for the second day in a row, said: “It has been an amazing Beast, and my friends and I enjoyed it very much.”