JEDDAH: After two days of incredible electronic sounds in Jeddah’s historic Old Town, MDLBEAST’s boutique Balad Beast festival came to a close as more than 25,000 people rocked the dance floors with 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 are, gathering tens of thousands of people to enjoy some amazing music on the most impressive environment with Balad Beast.
“The atmosphere has been incredible and everyone from the crowd to the performers have embraced the uniqueness of Al-Balad’s incredible story. We are happy to host our first boutique festival in a place that is close to our hearts – Al-Balad, Jeddah.”
Visitors danced their hearts out in various outdoor areas and on five massive stages with laser shows and state-of-the-art sound systems. Bringing together a variety of scenes and artists, Balad Beast offered music for all young people, from hip-hop to indie to electronica.
Mishaal Tamer, a young Saudi pop star, described his performance in Al-Balad as meaningful and special. “It’s always special when you play in your own city and my family has lived 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 to be artistic.
“I encourage young artists in the Kingdom who think a career in music is not possible. Because there are so many amazing events in Saudi Arabia, it is becoming 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 Arabia. She also wrote a special song dedicated to her parents. Roots are important to the young singer, as he discovered music through his family and his country.
Mohammed Taher, a VIP guest who came to show his support for Tamer and Balad Beast, said: “I never thought that Al-Balad would transform so much. In fact, the entire country has been transformed in recent years. I see that the spirit is changing and it is becoming quite exciting to witness how people get involved in these events and activities that are happening around. It is the moment in which people must not only live the change, but also do it by being part of it”.
In addition to the incredible pop music played over the two days, the residents of Al-Balad captivated the visitors with the well-known traditional Hejazi music.
Mayor of the historic area of Al-Balad Mohammed Al-Yousef dressed in a traditional orange Hejazi thobe and turban. He stood at the main gates of the area, telling Arab News that it was his duty to welcome guests to Al-Balad.
He added: “We are very happy to have such a big 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 we hope that the visitors and everyone who participated in this music festival have enjoyed all the alleys in the center of Jeddah.”
Balad Beast also featured an eclectic array of fire shows and magical performances by Dubai’s top close-up magician Felipe Scherson, London-based magician Tom Elderfield and a juggler and illusionist from France, Jyoti Supernaturel.
Marsh Abayan, Talent Manager for 4freelancers, who organized the magic shows, said: “This is the second time we have coordinated with MDLBEAST and brought together the broadest portfolio of artists from around the world for VIP guests and visitors. We hope to return next year with new talent and entertaining shows.”
Hanna Al-Abdullah, 25, who attended Balad Beast for the second day in a row, said, “It’s been an amazing Beast, and me and my friends really enjoyed it.”