TPiMEA #047 April/May 2024

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AFC Asian Cup

A theatrical Opening Ceremony that raises the bar for pre-match entertainment

Saadiyat Nights

Tom Jones performs in a purposebuilt temporary venue that brings the luxury to the UAE festival scene

KSA Founding Day

A stunning cultural art piece marks Riyadh’s celebrations for the annual public holiday

Terry Miranda

The industry legend and Founder of Lighthouse Productions gives a rare interview

Riyadh | Jeddah | Dubai

Independent d&b sales, distribution & support across the GCC

Welcome to TPiMEA

Having spent many a summer at UK festivals, trudging around muddy fields watching my favourite bands, I’ve always had a very specific idea of exactly what a ‘proper’ festival looks like. Of course, as I’ve travelled and broadened my horizons, I’ve since realised that festivals come in many guises, and just because I was brought up on a diet of mud baths and mosh pits, that doesn’t mean other people’s festival experiences are any less legitimate than mine.

Th e Middle East is a region that my younger self would no doubt have considered incapable of hosting a ‘proper’ festival. However, as anyone who attended the recent UNTOLD Dubai will attest, with a packed roster of artists covering a wide range of genres across multiple stages over four action-packed days, this was a setup that could compete with the biggest and most prestigious festivals anywhere in the world. Read our report on page 60

Sp eaking of festivals, I recently had the pleasure of taking in an altogether more luxurious festival experience than my usual gig-watching surroundings, as I visited the stunning, purpose-built temporary venue for Saadiyat Nights. The venue has hosted a variety of A-list stars including the likes of Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, and Sting over the past couple of months, and with Welsh legend Tom Jones performing on the night of my visit, the show more than lived up to its spectacular setting (page 72).

Elsewhere in the issue, we have an in-depth profile on the AFC Asian Cup Opening Ceremony (page 40) – a truly remarkable production that took place thanks to the combined efforts of a huge team of talented collaborators. We also have insightful interviews with Terry Miranda of Lighthouse Productions (page 8), and Tom Clements of Maestra (page 90), as well as Thomas Ovesen of All Things Live, who sheds light on Ed Sheeran’s record-breaking Dubai double-header (page 88).

Before I leave you, I’d like to wish the best of luck to everyone shortlisted for the TPiMEA Awards 2024. Voting has now closed, but if you want to be among the first to find out this year’s winners, make sure to get yourself down to Hard Rock Café Dubai Festival City on Thursday 2 May. If previous years are anything to go by, this is one night you do not want to miss.

Enjoy the issue.

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All Things Live CEO on a record-breaking Ed Sheeran double-header in Dubai.

Maestra's CEO on the company's 10-year anniversary and its Saudi expansion.

94 Feedback

Aggreko's Adam Rhodes talks sustainability; we catch up with MTD's Jesse van den Boomen after the company won the 2023 TPiMEA Awards Green Award; and 3 Monkeys' Rudi Buchner speculates on the future uses of AI in the events industry.

100 Gear Heads

AED Audio's Flex Series is put under the spotlight; Starway presents its latest range of IP-rated fixtures; we meet Kvant's massive new laser; and DirectOut's PRODIGY Series is explained in depth.

108 Regional Round-up

The latest news from the Middle East and Africa.

Editorial Director

Peter Iantorno

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360

Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637


Contributing Editor

Stew Hume

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Contributing Assistant Editor

Jacob Waite

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Editorial Assistant

Alicia Pollitt

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Commercial Director

Fran Begaj

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Account Manager

Matilda Matthews

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Account Manager

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Account Manager

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Look 08 Terry Miranda The industry veteran gives a rare in-depth interview. Event Focus 18 Castello Cube A record-breaking drone show at Burj Al Arab. 20 KSA Founding Day A cultural art piece for Riyadh's holiday celebrations. 24 Manar Abu Dhabi Groupe F puts on a daily drone show at the Louvre. 30 Riyadh Season at Mohammed Abdo Arena Two shows that celebrate Arabian culture. 34 One&Only One Za'aBeel Projection-mapping records tumble in Dubai. Production Profile 40 AFC Asian Cup A spectacular theatrical production that raises the bar for pre-match entertainment. 60 UNTOLD Dubai The UAE’s first mega-festival takes over Expo City Dubai for a multi-stage, multi-day party. 72 Saadiyat Nights Tom Jones stars on a luxurious evening in Abu Dhabi. In Profile 80 Southby Middle East Exclusive: Southby Productions is appointed as a new d&b audiotechnik Sales Partner in the GCC.
The revamped management team taking the company to new heights. Interview
88 Thomas Ovesen
90 Tom Clements
Digital Content Manager James Robertson Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475819 e-mail: Marketing and Event Manager Alice Clarke Mobile: +44 (0)7752 392465 e-mail: Chief Executive Justin Gawne Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail: Mondiale Group Chairman Damian Walsh Graphic Design & Production Dan Seaton: Jez Reid: Accounts Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller: Cover Photography UNTOLD Dubai by UNTOLD Dubai Printed By Buxton Press @TPiMEA_Magazine / TPiMEAMagazine @ tpimea_magazine /company/tpimeamagazine ROXX GmbH | Cologne/Germany THE CLUSTER SERIES CLUSTER S1 THE ORIGINAL NEW!

Terry Miranda, Founder and Managing Director, Lighthouse Productions

Sparing some time from his busy schedule for a rare interview, the industry veteran shares his insights and inspirations with TPiMEA.

An award-winning lighting and production designer and the Founder and Managing Director of one of the most well-respected and longstanding production companies in the UAE, Terry Miranda is a name that will no doubt be familiar with the vast majority of TPiMEA readers.

Born and raised in the UAE, Miranda cut his teeth in the industry working on shows for the likes of Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, and Def Leppard before taking the plunge and setting up Lighthouse Productions (LHP) in 2004.

Now 20 years on from its foundation, LHP is one of the region’s best regarded multidisciplinary production design and event management companies, winning countless awards not to mention the favour of high-profile clients, suppliers, and colleagues along the way.

With a long and storied career and two decades of company success to look back on, it would have been easy for Miranda to spend the duration of our conversation reeling off some of his many achievements. However, as those who know him will attest, the industry veteran is about as opposed to the typical pedestrian profile brimming with banal praise and self-indulgence as it’s possible to be.

“I ’m only interested in meaningful conversations,” he expressed, revealing his exasperation at the constant interview requests from publications looking to highlight his business prowess. “I’ve reached a point in my life where I would much rather chat about creativity and how we can work with the next generation to engage them in the

industry rather than how to build a business or the most effective ways of making money.”

True to his word, in this wide-ranging and far-reaching interview, Miranda discusses everything from making cultural change through theatre and the importance of maintaining good mental health, to his views on how AI should be embraced rather than feared and the innovative hybrid esports concept he believes has the potential to disrupt the world of cricket.

How has the regional landscape changed over the past few years?

I was born and raised in the UAE, and I turned 50 last year, so I’ve seen a lot of changes in the region in my time. The biggest development in recent years must be in Saudi Arabia, which reminds me of Dubai in the 1990s, but with everything at warp speed. This rapid progression is undoubtedly producing some astounding work, with some of the world’s most talented creatives being given the platform and the budget to showcase their creativity on increasingly impressive productions.

While there is a lot of creativity on show inside largescale productions, the speed of development means that we’re not seeing much in the way of brand-new concepts or ideas that make a genuine and long-lasting difference. Everyone is so focussed on the need of the hour, entering Saudi Arabia, and putting on huge shows week after week,

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so there’s not much time for people to think outside the box. The Middle East has always had a ‘we need this yesterday’ approach, which isn’t inherently a bad thing as long as we can find a middle ground that still allows for creative thinking. However, what frustrates me the most is when that middle ground starts to compromise your creativity. That is why we’ve always focussed on doing turnkey projects at LHP, because the more control we have over the entire process, the quicker we are able to effect changes. You lose that control when you are actively relying on others.

How do you ensure that LHP maintains its boutique style and creativity?

That boutique style is how LHP started and it’s so important that we continue to operate in this way. Expanding our rental inventory and going after volume events would, I’m sure, be a relatively straightforward way of making money, but that comes at the risk of losing your creative spark and entering into a red ocean saturated part of the industry. Of course, we must ensure that we’re profitable, but never at the expense of creativity.

The best boutique companies know their target market, know their value, and they stick to it. When you bring LHP onto a project you’re getting the benefit of our whole spectrum of services, from rental to stage design, event management, fitout, branding, and everything in between. We would much rather operate on smaller numbers in this high-end spectrum where creativity can flourish than churn out hundreds of shows every year.

With that said, the more our offerings have expanded, the less time I’ve been able to find to think about crazy new ideas – and that is really where my passion lies. So, to coincide with our 20-year anniversary, we’re revamping the company, segregating all the divisions so they can work independently and drive their own revenue. Each will have

its own CEO, which will allow me to take a step back and focus more on building our own IPs.

Alongside the revamp, we’re also relocating, after we decided to sell our property in Dubai’s Bay Square, which we’ve been in for the past 10 years. While we’re in temporary offices at the moment, we are currently mulling the prospect of buying land and building our own sustainable, bespoke facility to house everything under one roof – including the infrastructure required for our planned IPs. It’s something that could be transformative for the company.

What can you tell us about the IPs you’re working on?

We have several IPs at various stages of development. One that I’m especially excited about is in the field of esports cricket – the Cyber Cricket League (CCL). We’ve developed our own platform, which combines vision software, AR, batting chips and 1511bowling machines to create a hybrid environment where someone can physically compete in a game of cricket, which is also played out in the virtual world. I’m extremely passionate about sport and one of the things that frustrates me about cricket is all the politics involved. Politics need to be removed from sport, and the CCL has the potential to be a real disrupter in the cricket industry.

I’m inspired by the UFC and how they created their whole ecosystem. They have done so well in maintaining the streaming rights and their pipeline of fighters through their TV show, and that is something we will look to emulate with the CCL, starting with regional leagues and building up the ecosystem to form a global Champions League-style cricket esports tournament.

Another IP we’ve been working on is called Films in a Box – a popup cinema concept that we launched with Dubai Culture in 2020, which was halted due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea is to have a series of sustainable temporary cinemas that each fit around 30

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“Some people get confused about what we do. Are we an event company, a design company, an interior fitout company, a TV production company, or a rental house? The truth is, we’re all of these…”
Terry Miranda, Lighthouse Productions

people, and each plays a specific genre of film, with the proviso that all films are non-dialogue.

As well as being a platform for fledgeling filmmakers and a huge attraction for the deaf community, Films in a Box is also about bringing cultures together and sharing ideas with no language barrier.

Th e UAE is a fantastic country for us to launch the concept because we have 180 different nationalities here. We could have rushed to relaunch the project as soon as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, but after seeing the positive feedback we received initially and weighing up the massive potential size of the market, we decided to take a breath and ensure that we have everything in place to launch in a way that creates maximum impact. It’s certainly something we’re looking to relaunch soon.

What do you consider to be the cornerstone offerings of the company?

Some people get confused about what we do. Are we an event company, a design company, an interior fitout company, a TV production company, or a rental house?

The truth is, we’re all of these, and we continue to deliver projects across all these verticals alongside our longer-term vision of developing new IPs.

Have you got any plans to open in Saudi Arabia?

We are planning on opening in Saudi Arabia, but we don’t want to go after the volume. I want to do quality work that my staff and I can be proud of. We’ll adopt a ‘one for you, one for me’ approach – we’ll do one project that the client requires, but at the same time let’s design something crazy and out of the box for us to be able to push our creativity.

It took a while to find a partner who would support that vision, but we have the right match now and we’ll look to open in Riyadh in the coming months, with our first two projects planned for Jeddah and Dammam.

We recently acquired the licenses for a few major cartoon brands, including the likes of Shaun the Sheep, who have given us the right to create our own content and

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theatrical shows using the brand. We’ve got several shows that are set and designed, and we plan on programming them all in the same venue over a couple of months. That will make it more cost-effective, meaning we don’t need to charge a high ticket price, which should in turn encourage more attendance and help have a direct cultural impact in the country.

How have you seen attitudes to mental health change in recent years?

The live events industry is all about quick turnarounds –especially in this region – and that can have a devastating effect on those working within it. I’m a big supporter of what former Arabian Business Editor, Scott Armstrong is doing with mentl – a platform which provides a holistic approach to mental health issues in the workplace.

I was also on the crisis committee for ILEA Middle East and I witnessed a lot of very disturbing situations. The enforced break brought about by COVID-19 taught us a lot, and as we’ve come out of it and things are returning to normal, we questioned whether we wanted to go back to how things were.

We wanted to make decisions that impact our staff positively, which is why we’ve moved to a four-day week, with Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays off. We’re pulling back and saying, ‘let’s not go after short-term money’. We would much rather work with fewer clients and do higher quality work and make sure that the health of our staff is maintained.

How do you like to spend your downtime?

I love what I do and even when I’m not working directly, I’m almost always searching for inspiration or thinking about my next idea. Anyone working in the creative world needs to be inspired, and when you are stuck seeing the same things over and over, that’s not the best landscape to take and draw your inspiration from.

Du bai is a wonderful place to live but I find it important to disconnect every now and then, to go somewhere away from the hustle and bustle and be able to hear myself think clearly. My wife and I recently went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina; it was one of the

most amazing experiences I’ve ever had, and it allowed me to find peace and clarity.

Where else do you get your inspiration?

I look at the fantastic work being done by creatives who are at the top of their game. The likes of Dragone, Cirque Du Soleil, David Atkins, Balich and Jack Morton are all active in the region and bringing a world-class level of creativity to their shows. Local companies should aspire to develop that level of production, so we don’t need to constantly import that creative. You don’t see a Dragone show to count how many lights are in the ceiling; you go there because you know it’s going to be a creative masterpiece, and that’s what I aspire towards for LHP.

We’ve been privileged to be nominated for awards alongside some of these titans several times over the years, and that really excites us. We want to show people that we punch above our weight and elevate our creativity to the point where we are equals with the people who inspire us.

How do you think AI will affect creative industries?

I often hear the scaremongering stories about how AI will completely wipe out the creative industry, and there seems to be a distinct split in opinion between the specialists versus the generalists. The people who complain the most about AI are usually specialists who have been trained in a very specific discipline and are not prepared to stray from it. The generalists meanwhile have a broad enough skillset that they can utilise AI to enhance their workflow.

Even if AI does eliminate the need for humans to perform certain tasks, that opens up new opportunities; those who fare best will be the ones who can identify the opportunities and think creatively about how best to exploit them. This has been happening for generations. Whenever a new technology comes out, whoever embraces it and works out how to use it to their advantage is successful.

Do you think the advancement of technology will have any effect on human creativity?

I think new technology will have a positive effect on creativity. I remember back in 2011 when we became the first and only company to get permission to projection map

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and conduct an awards ceremony at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. We used the technology available to us at the time, which involved us manually adjusting the projectors on site to map the façade – a task that took us the best part of a month to wrap our heads around. Nowadays, with the technology at our disposal, the same effect could be achieved within 24 hours, leaving us with much more time to focus on the creative development.

Te chnology is meant to serve us. If we think along the lines of how it will make us obsolete, we’re not grasping how to use it properly. Anything that speeds up our processes and allows more time for creativity is only going to help. We actively engage with AI now, sketching our own ideas, importing them to Midjourney or Stable Diffusion, and then taking the outputs of our own work, before moving into 3D and mapping it. We’re using the technology not to avoid being creative but to streamline our process.

How much importance do you place on inspiring the next generation to get involved in the industry?

It’s vital that the next generation continues to embrace the industry, and I’m enjoying being able to spend more time giving something back and hopefully inspiring them. What I find incredibly exciting about the future is that the lines between career paths have now become blurred. When I was starting out in the 1990s, if you were an architect then that’s all you were; nowadays, we’re now seeing people with architecture or engineering backgrounds involved in

designing some of the world’s biggest shows.

What I always try to impress upon young people entering the industry is that the field they study or work in initially won’t necessarily be the one they end up in. Lighthouse Productions got its name because I started out as a lighting designer, before going into stage design then eventually building the company out to the multidisciplinary platform it is today.

For any young person getting their start in the industry, if they lay some solid foundations with a good grounding in a particular discipline, the key to longer term success is to build upon that, diversify, and continue to learn.

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Photos: Lighthouse Productions











































































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We offer 2 different Monobloq bodies: one for 8 mm steel ropes and one for 10 mm steel ropes. To operate with each of these diameters, the corresponding pressure wedge must be used. In both cases the installation is done the same way.

Castello Cube at Burj Al Arab

AO Multimedia & Drones masterminds a Guinness World Record-breaking drone show in collaboration with CAST Studio, coinciding with Chinese New Year.

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An exclusive art installation held at the Burj Al Arab was given an aerial upgrade during its recent Chinese New Year celebrations, as AO Multimedia & Drones collaborated with art promotion platform CAST Studio to produce a complex and creative 3D drone show, which encircled the iconic building for the first time in its history.

Th e centrepiece of this multiday art project was a gigantic, nearly 300m, three-dimensional ‘living’ dragon, crafted from 1,500 specialised LED drones. Rising from the sea to ascend around the building, the drone-dragon formation culminated at its pinnacle where it transformed into a golden cube, paying homage to CAST Studio’s unique 186kg pure gold artwork, Castello Cube – created by Niclas Castello and presented by founder Sven Wenzel and his curator Markus Schaefer – which was displayed at the Burj Al Arab for four evenings around the show. These evenings

celebrated the fusion of the real and digital worlds of art with state-of-the-art blockchain technology and the announcement of the international art exhibition, ARTIADE taking place New York.

Developed by AO Multimedia & Drones, this performance of cutting-edge technology was showcased during the art project by CAST Studio to celebrate the Chinese New Year and set a new Guinness World Record for the world’s first 360° drone show – the first time a drone show has ever been flown 360° around a building without losing radio communication.

At the apex of the Burj Al Arab, three of the world’s most powerful 600W show lasers, installed in collaboration with AO partner Laserfabrik, illuminated the sky, symbolically connecting each of the UAE’s seven emirates, along with neighbouring countries, and even the cosmos, with Jupiter and Mars.

Meanwhile, the exhibition space and the pure gold artwork itself, positioned atop the Burj Al Arab’s helipad at 212m in the sky, were brought to life with 24 Ayrton Cobra moving lights from Procom, casting a radiant glow across the golden surfaces and location.

“This fusion of traditional symbolism and contemporary art was an unforgettable experience,” commented Marco Niedermeier, Founder and Producer at AO Multimedia & Drones, who worked alongside Creative Director, Jan Ising and globally renowned Show Production Designer, Jerry P. Appelt.

“As pioneers in large-scale multimedia shows, AO Multimedia & Drones has always sought to push the boundaries of innovation.”

Photos: AO Multimedia & Drones, CAST Studio, Sidharth Vithaldas

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Saudi Arabia Founding Day 2024

A stunning agal-inspired cultural art piece marks Riyadh’s celebrations for the annual public holiday.

As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia commemorated its Founding Day, the capital city of Riyadh was illuminated by a remarkable light installation in the King Fahd National Library Park. Initially intended for the Al Faisaliah Tower, the project was reimagined for the Library Park by the team at ES:ME Entertainment Services, led by Project Manager, Karen Zeindl, who oversaw the production team.

On the evening of 22 February, a light show marked by sweeping beams, chases and intricate patterns filled the skies above Riyadh. The event, which ran every 30 minutes, drew in audiences with its complexity and elegance.

“This project was the result of a collective effort by a diverse team of international experts who came together to bring this vision to fruition,” commented Zeindl, who went on to recognise the contributions from all parties involved, crediting All Events Services (AES) for the scaffolding, Expo for the static engineering and calculation, Double Impact for the Agal deco production, and bright! studios for the innovative lighting design.

With a staggering 18 tonnes of equipment to be suspended for the event, the logistics required meticulous planning and execution. Even as equipment was en route, the team adapted swiftly to the evolving circumstances. With additional crew and a scaffolding structure quickly put in place, the park was transformed into a spectacular stage.

Th e event made use of 250 Elation Proteus luminaires, chosen specifically for their highgrade specifications that allow performance in all weather conditions. Alexander Wuerfel, CEO of ES:ME Entertainment Services and the Technical Director for the event, has been utilising Proteus for projects across the region since 2019. “The reliability of Proteus in various conditions made them the obvious choice for this event,” he stated.

ES:ME served as the lighting vendor and managed the project with acute attention to detail. “We understand the complexities of the Kingdom now having led several similarly complex projects like this here, and around the world – we are adept to change,” he added.

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Thomas Giegerich, Managing Director of bright! studios, described the vision for the light show as “a royal ambiance, akin to a crown, that honours the Kingdom’s heritage and unity”. He elaborated: “We encircled the agal with 120 Proteus Hybrids on the ground with 24 Proteus Excaliburs crowning the top, three circles of lights that provided a striking contrast to the square shape of the agal piece. The beams were visible from across the city and the entire installation really left a lasting impression.” Th e juxtaposition of the Proteus Excalibur beams against those of the Proteus Hybrids added depth and contrast to the display. “We had decided on the Proteus Hybrid, but we wanted a really punchy beam that would look good in contrast to it, so we chose the Excalibur,” Giegerich explained. “We wanted to give people something special, something that was visible from afar, and we accomplished that.”

On e of those special looks was what the designer called ‘twisters’ in which he tilted the three circles of fixtures while panning to create an intricate, overlapping spiral beam effect.

Giegerich reported falling in love with the Excalibur’s “ability to do colour while projecting a powerful mid-air effect” at a shootout in Frankfurt, Germany last year while making fixture choices for the upcoming UEFA Euro 2024 Championships.

To e nhance the visual look of the art piece further, 60 Proteus Rayzor 760 fixtures were placed between each agal rope, creating an enchanting twinkle effect that delighted onlookers.

“The client wasn’t convinced of putting lights at that position, but we didn’t intend to do more beams or punchy lighting with them,” Giegerich revealed. “Once they saw the eye-candy twinkle effect they can produce (SparkLED), they loved it. It was super beautiful and a real lifesaver.” An additional 30 Proteus Rayzor 760s adorned the King Fahad Library façade, extending the ambiance of the event.

Reflecting on the project, Zeindl described the Founding Day light show as “more than a display of technical expertise”. She concluded: “It was a celebration of the nation’s rich history and a symbol of collective spirit and resilience. Through creativity and collaboration, the team overcame significant obstacles to create a memorable spectacle of light and inspiration for the Kingdom’s future.”

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Photos: ES:ME Entertainment Services

Manar Abu Dhabi: Transient Present, Persistent Future

Groupe F creates a striking artistic drone show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, flown several times per evening for 78 nights consecutively.

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A public art programme that saw the UAE capital illuminated with a series of light art sculptures, Manar Abu Dhabi brought together an extraordinary array of artists, with the intention of fostering a sense of calm, engagement and appreciation in the city’s residents and tourists alike. As part of the festival, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (ADCT) commissioned Groupe F to create a daily drone show, viewable from the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Entitled Transient Present, Persistent Future, the original creation combined depictions of some of Saadiyat Island’s most iconic attractions – including the Louvre and a rendering of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi – with artistic light painting techniques to produce a striking and captivating effect.

“Transient Present, Persistent Future is a dialogue between light and time, about the future of the museum island of Abu Dhabi,” explained Groupe F’s Deputy Managing Director, Nicolas Chavance.

“We presented two types of drone performance – large-scale flights with more than 1,000 drones displaying the future museums in 3D, and a neverseen-before live light painting performance with a dedicated broadcast installation.”

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Groupe F Artistic Director, Christophe Berthonneau, developed the concept based on a series of discussions with ADCT’s creative team, proposing an original creation especially designed for the occasion, with drones, video broadcast and an original musical score.

“While the performance is an amazing technical and operational challenge, it’s just as much of an artistic undertaking,” Chavance stated. “Proposing a super large-scale light painting in the sky was a challenge as we needed to explain and reassure everyone that it would work! We engaged a fleet of 1,500 drones to ensure all the daily flights with spare batteries. We also developed a special broadcast system, displaying live onsite the light painting performance on a large LED screen for the public with a sound system.”

With several shows per night over 78 nights consecutively, Groupe F operated a mammoth

535 shows, with an impressive 299,733 drone flights combining to achieve 109,504 flight hours over the course of the festival.

“C onsidering the long-term nature of the delivery, we took the approach of developing a permanent installation, putting together an efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective compound. This was a prime opportunity to develop a solution that can be reused later,” Chavance explained, adding that the company’s main challenge was the distance between the take-off and landing zone (TOLZ) and show area. “The fleet had to fly 900m from the TOLZ, flying around the Louvre and over the water,” he recalled. “This was challenging, but everyone was supportive, and we pulled it off.”

Having been working creatively with drones since 2017, Groupe F has assembled a team of engineers, pyrotechnicians, video content designers, music composers, and technicians,

all adept at ‘telling stories with light’. “From video, fire, and pyro, to light, laser, live performance, and water screen, we have tested it all,” Chavance commented. “We knew from the beginning of the drone adventure that we wanted to develop something new and never seen before – not just displaying logos and still images in the sky. Manar Abu Dhabi was a unique opportunity to propose something we developed before in terms of drone light painting.”

Chavance concluded by recalling his favourite moments from the project: “The public reaction is what pleased me the most. I was so happy to talk with people who were taking their own long-exposure shots of the show. To see people going home with their own artistic creation and memory of our show is the most beautiful thing I can think of.”

Photos: Groupe F

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Riyadh Season at Mohammed Abdo Arena

Rotana engages IMAGIC and Observatory to help produce a spectacular celebration of Arabian culture.

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With Riyadh Season 2024 in full swing, the city’s Mohammed Abdo Arena hosted a spectacular double-header of shows, starting with a New Year’s Eve celebration starring Ahlam, Angham, Assala, Asma Lamnawar, Elissa, and Nancy Ajram, followed a few days later by a spectacular celebration of Arabian culture, headlined by Iraqi-Saudi singer and composer Majid AlMohandis Le d and produced by Rotana, the concerts saw IMAGIC Group bring its unique blend of entertainment and cultural appreciation to life under the guidance of the company’s prominent Creative Director, Ghazy Feghaly. Although IMAGIC usually handles the production from A to Z, covering stage building until the final delivery, with these projects, the company focused on execution and artistic elements of the shows.

Nicole Zahar, Executive Producer for IMAGIC, spoke to TPiMEA about her experience. “Navigating the integration of storytelling and authentic cultural representation posed challenges, met with finesse under Ghazy Feghaly’s direction,” she stated while outlining the

main challenges. “IMAGIC’s expertise in creative direction and show calling, combined with a focus on traditional outfits, props, accessories, and visual graphics, overcame challenges, delivering a cohesive, engaging experience.”

Brought in to aid in the creative delivery of the shows was London-based Observatory, which created the content for the production. “We’ve had a long history with IMAGIC, as far back as 2010, when we worked together on the Stars of Science TV shows for the Qatar Foundation and other stage shows for television in the Middle East,” commented Ben Sheppee of Observatory. Despite the long history with the company, Sheppee and his team had not collaborated with IMAGIC since 2020 and COVID-19 and jumped at the opportunity to collaborate again.

Shep pee outlined the basic creative vision for the project. “For the Majid show, there was a developing narrative around the artist’s history, having lived in several countries within the Middle East. Born Iraqi, and now a proud Saudi national, the show became a journey through the artist’s life, and the visuals supported that idea

with theatrical backdrops that echoed Majid’s memories and experiences.”

He went on to explain Observatory’s collative work with Creative Director, Ghazy Feghaly. “Ghazy had a local knowledge of these locations and some strong ideas of how this would translate to the stage. He had worked on artboards to sign off with the team in KSA, and from there scenes were built using 3D animation, AI workflows, and motion graphics to help bring the stage to life.”

Acco rding to Sheppee, identifying a collection of 3D assets allowed his team to quickly add structure to the stage LED. “Having control over environments in 3D meant that we could respond to requests for lighting and deliver content that would naturally look and feel like theatrical backdrops,” he stated.

Th e main challenge for the content team was the scale of the stage they were working with. “It was one of the largest we had worked on, and the LED panels that had been installed were high resolution as it was all being shot for TV and there were closeups at times. Objects that

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occupied only a few pixels on our monitor were sometimes the same scale as a person on set,” Sheppee recalled.

“A I was also used in the scaling of video elements, basically down to the fact that there is not a lot of content available natively at such a resolution. We did plenty of pre-processing in and Vimager’s Scaleup plugin to get elements across the line at the highest possible quality.” The curved nature of the LED screens

meant that Observatory had to utilise techniques that are usually reserved for VR productions. “We were doing lots of tests in 360 to previsualise the stage to help plan what visual content was going to work best on the screen design and resorted to equirectangular outputs in some cases which looked much better in camera.”

“The collaboration with European choreographers and professional dancers, under Feghaly’s direction further elevated the

authenticity of the performances,” concluded Zahar. “The extraordinary costumes and curated stage props, combined with captivating visual graphics, not only enhanced cultural representation but also showcased Feghaly’s artistic prowess in creating a visually stunning and culturally resonant production.”

Photos: Observatory

Show Laser.... and Smoke.... our Business Mail: Phone: +971.2.6459554 Middle East 33

One&Only One Za’abeel Launch

BUREAU BEATRICE celebrates the grand launch of One&Only One Za’abeel in style with the world’s longest projection mapping experience, breaking three Guinness World Records.

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In a dazzling display of creativity and technological prowess, BUREAU BEATRICE marked the grand inauguration of One&Only One Za’abeel with a ground-breaking projection mapping extravaganza, setting not one, but three Guinness World Records in the process.

The spectacular event, accredited by Guinness World Records as the largest architectural projection-mapped display, the longest architectural projection-mapped display, and the largest mesh screen on a building, featured a seven-minute multimedia show crafted by BUREAU BEATRICE in collaboration with technical partner, MediaPro International.

Th e spectacle paid homage to the rich heritage of the region while showcasing the architectural brilliance of Dubai’s newest luxury resort, One&Only One Za’abeel. According to MediaPro International Project Lead, Shoaib

Moideen, the achievement of these records was a testament to the team’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation: “This was an incredibly gratifying achievement for the MediaPro team,” Moideen said. “It gave us immense pride and a sense of accomplishment to be part of a team that pushed the boundaries of creativity and innovation.”

Preparation for the event was meticulous, with extensive laser scanning of the area and delivery of multiple projection studies to the client. The visual extravaganza was powered by 165 Panasonic PT-RQ35K projectors, with content driven by a Disguise vx 4 media server and feeds transported through Lightware Matrix HDMI 2.0 MX2 and KRAMER fibre cables.

“C onducting comprehensive laser scanning across the entire area and seamlessly integrating 3D data into the Disguise cloud was instrumental

in facilitating meticulous planning and preproduction for Mapping Matter,” Moideen recalled. “We needed to ensure the meticulous simulation of projector positions and angles during the pre-production phase, as the unique challenges posed by varying distances and sizes of projection surfaces left no room for error.”

Planning and precision in this regard were essential, as the stakes were high and rectification opportunities were limited. “We needed to explore optimal strategies for effectively covering the uppermost sections of the towers from available projection tower positions,” Moideen noted.

Ac cording to MediaPro’s Video Technical Manager, Konstantin Laptev, Panasonic’s Geometry Manager software proved vital for projector control and adjustment considering the scale of the project. “It allowed us to save

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numerous outputs from the media server by stacking projectors via embedded warping features,” he explained. “MMCS is also a great tool for monitoring projector conditions, which is crucial when there are a large number of projectors running.”

Me diaPro recently made a major investment in Panasonic, giving the company one of the region’s largest rental fleets of Panasonic highbrightness projectors. “The main reason is the durability and reliability of Panasonic projectors, which are renowned for their robustness, ensuring dependable performance. Moreover, Panasonic’s extensive global presence facilitates cross-hiring these projectors worldwide,” Laptev commented. “Another crucial factor is maintenance, especially in the Middle East where dust is a significant concern,” he added. Panasonic projectors are known for their easy maintenance, making them highly advantageous for our operations in this region.”

Th e projection reached approximately 317m in height. At this elevation, even slight vibrations or strong winds could disrupt the projection, necessitating the need to realign everything. “Our main challenge was ensuring the stability and steadiness of both the scaffolding and the projectors. With diligence, attention to detail and persistence, we were able to achieve this successfully,” Moideen stated.

One of the major challenges faced during the setup was ensuring stability and steadiness in the

face of Dubai’s unpredictable weather. “Despite encountering rain and heavy winds, the MediaPro team remained resilient, ensuring smooth operations throughout the event,” Moideen said, highlighting that quick thinking and preparation allowed them to overcome obstacles, such as water splashing inside the scaffolding, affecting the projectors.

A particularly unique challenge was presented by a section just above the link, where traditional projection methods proved impractical due to existing projector placement. However, through careful consideration and collaboration, the team secured an adjacent tower apartment balcony to seamlessly cover the dead zone, ultimately achieving three prestigious Guinness World Record in the meantime.

“The success of the event was a testament to the dedication, attention to detail, and innovative thinking of the entire team,” Moideen commented, praising the support of Video Technical Manager, Konstantin Laptev and Dmitriy Lokhmanov on site. In closing, Moideen proudly stated that the project was a “remarkable achievement” that showcased the capabilities of modern projection mapping technology in creating awe-inspiring experiences.

The event set three Guinness World records for the largest architectural projectionmapped display, the longest architectural projection-mapped display, and the largest mesh screen on a building

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Photos: Stéphane Aït Ouarab, MediaPro International

ES:ME Advances in Saudi Arabia!

“We have known and have admired Matthew’s work for many years and are delighted that this market entry to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has enabled us to bring him to ES:ME.”

Photos by: Abdullah Yahya/ Ralph Larmann

Saudi Arabia is on an incredible journey of innovation and investment to create a global hub of tourism and entertainment. ES:ME being fully licensed to operate in Saudi Arabia, is aligned with the country’s vision, ready to continue catering to the diverse needs of our clients in the Kingdom.

With Matthew Clarke’s leadership as Director of operations in Riyadh, we’re more than ready to extend our event engineering expertise and equipment. From superior rigging to captivating sound and lighting, ES:ME is primed to elevate the events industry in Saudi Arabia.

As we solidify our presence in the larger parts of the region, we are ready and eager to hear your inquiries. Let’s bring your vision to life, right here in Saudi Arabia!

Send us your request through:

Main image:“DIALOGUE” light show by Christopher Bauder in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia SaudiArabia Founding Day Art Installation “Axion”byChristopher Bauder displayed at theNoorRiyadhfestival. “DIALOGUE” light show Riyadh, SaudiArabia

AFC Asian Cup Opening Ceremony

A spectacular theatrical opening ceremony that raises the bar for pre-match entertainment.

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Following the landmark success of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the country was once again in the global spotlight as it hosted the 18th edition of the AFC Asian Cup in January 2024. With expectations set sky high, the organisers were looking for an Opening Ceremony that defied the conventions of traditional pre-match entertainment and set the tone for the tournament.

Tasked with meeting this mammoth challenge was Qatar-based Katara Studios, with Shannon Gobell appointed to the role of Technical Director for the project. “I got the call from Katara back in late July 2023,” he told TPiMEA, recalling how he got involved. “From the moment the creative was presented to me it was clear that this would be a staggering challenge. I guess that’s what attracted me to it!”

With just over five months to put the project together, Gobell and the wider Katara team launched straight into setting up the framework of the production, finalising the budgets, putting operating systems in place and engaging staff. “By the time all that was in place, we were left with around three months to deliver a large, world-class ceremony – which is no mean feat,” he commented, recalling how it was a busy period generally for major events in the GCC, with COP28, UAE Union Day, Saudi Seasons and Red Sea Film Festival just a few of the events all taking

place in quick succession. “Finding the right staff and suppliers was a challenge, but we’re incredibly pleased with the team we brought in –everybody did a fantastic job.”

Among the extensive list of collaborators was Sila Sveta – a long-term partner for Katara Studios, with the Asian Cup being the fifth project the two companies have worked on together. “We have a true creative symbiosis with Katara Studios, and we were glad to be brought onboard early, starting work on the project in March,” commented Magrifa Kamiyeva, Producer, Sila Sveta. “Each time we work together, we propose quite unconventional ideas for events, and we always support each other and bring our thoughts to life together.”

And there were certainly plenty of nuances to consider. “A stadium with 360° spectators, no roof, natural grass, and a stage that had to be set up and struck in short amount of time, all while leaving the grass unscathed,” Kamiyeva recalled, listing a few of the many challenges. “Non-trivial tasks require non-trivial solutions. We already encountered all of this during the development of the closing ceremony of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and we were up for the challenge.”

With the Opening Ceremony including a full-scale theatrical performance played out to the backdrop of a one-of-a-kind set featuring extensive technical overlay, the production

was a world away from the usual pre-match entertainment that typically precedes most showpiece football matches.

“The creative concept behind the ceremony was a fusion of storytelling and cultural elements, aimed at embodying unity between the Middle East and Asia, through the musical Lost Chapter of Kelileh & Demneh,” explained Arthur Kondrashenkov, Stage Design and Content Creative Director, Sila Sveta.

Af ter being approached with a basic concept of sand dunes, a central screen, and the theme of mirrors as a metaphorical image of society and self-awareness, the Sila Sveta team ran with the idea, producing the unique stage design as well as the on-screen content.

“We wanted to design the stage with incorporated symbolism from both the East and Asia. This is how we got sand dunes representing the Arab world and pink petals paying homage to Asian symbols like the magnolia and cherry blossom,” Kondrashenkov recalled.

“We also turned to the structure and history of the AFC to create the main stage of the show. AFC consists of five regions – Southeast Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and Western Asia – so, instead of one giant screen, our central feature of the stage design was five seashellshaped screens in a circle, symbolising a bridge to the past when pearl diving was a major


industry in Qatar,” he added. “Five screens made the content visible 360° so the entire stadium audience could see it.”

The design of the on-screen content involved several key elements and technologies and aligned with the storyline of the musical Kelileh & Demneh, which was performed by actors on stage. At the core of the plot was the story of the main character’s acceptance of both their flaws and virtues, with several magical animals representing each nation competing in the AFC Asian Cup assisting them in this process. “We made this self-acceptance process allegorical, using imagery present in the song lyrics,” explained Kondrashenkov. “The content not only mirrored what was happening on stage but also portrayed the narrative in a metaphorical form.”

The character’s flaws were depicted through abstract fluids in the first images on the screen, while in another scene the character was illuminated by white light, portraying a soul. There was also a colourful rainbow fracture effect emerging from clouds to accompany the show’s colourful song lyrics.

“The content on the screens introduced a new dimension to the musical, rather than merely duplicating what was happening on stage,” he added. “We are accustomed to clear-cut content

at such events, without many metaphors, to ensure clarity. However, here we presented the narrative in an abstract form.”

Th e Stage Design and Content Creative Director looked back fondly on several moments of the show. “The first one, of course, was the unveiling of the mirrors,” he recalled. “We wanted to surprise the audience, so that during the show, the stage suddenly came to life and five huge screens rose from the field, hidden beneath the petals. And we succeeded because astonished exclamations were heard throughout the stadium at that moment.”

‘An extraordinary achievement’ Creative Technology (CT) was entrusted with delivering the video solution, which included projectors, video system design, LED screens, servers, and infrastructure for signal transport and distribution. The company crafted a complex signal distribution matrix covering approximately 10km of fibre to various stadium locations, including catwalks for PTZ cameras.

“O ur responsibilities also extended to the Field of Play for LED screens, OB trucks, and signal transport for in-house screens,” stated CT’s Senior Project Manager, Riaan Gomes. “This project was a monumental achievement in the

landscape of international sporting spectacles.” A total of 50 Panasonic RQ35k projectors, equipped with a mix of LE80 and LE40 lenses, were strategically employed to project vivid imagery onto the handmade sand dune set pieces, while the visual centrepiece of the show was brought to life with 600 panels of ROE Visual BP2 V2, which were integrated into the five giant mirrors. Content was run through 12 Disguise VX4+ units, serving as Actors, along with two Disguise GX2C units used as Understudies.

“There aren’t too many suppliers in the world that will lend you their top-quality indoor ROE Visual LED for an outdoor environment,” Gobell laughed, recalling how the production went to special lengths to ensure that the screens were protected from any possible damage. “We really wanted the screens to look fantastic close up on the broadcast, so it was worth the extra effort.”

Broadcast Director Marek Mill oversaw what was a complex shoot, which Gobell considered more akin to what one would expect from the likes of Eurovision Song Contest or the Super Bowl Halftime show than a pre-match ceremony. “We wanted to shoot this up close with lots of movement and panning cameras,” he explained. “We also took our own IMAG cut rather than just using the broadcast feed on IMAG screens.


This meant we had no video repeating in the background of any shots and the stadium had a genuine IMAG cut rather than broadcast. We were thinking about broadcast, the entire stadium, and the VIP seats all at once.”

The project presented a significant challenge when it came to the logistical feat of transforming the playing surface into a show stage and back again in a short amount of time, all while ensuring the grass remained in pristine condition. “It was an extraordinary achievement to move such a major piece of infrastructure with extensive power, data and automation requirements, all on a strict timeframe and without damaging the pitch,” recalled Gobell.

A key partner in addressing the various logistical and engineering challenges was Stage One, which delivered the aerial, automation, and stage engineering solutions. The company’s involvement began in early summer 2023 with a piece of technical consultancy that provided a feasibility study and proposed methodologies for Sila Sveta’s creative concept, with input from Rastislav Bartek helping to support the structural engineering of the stadium steelwork that Stage One’s aerial system connected back to.

Stage One then manufactured the five 12.5m-tall mirrors used to house the LED tiles.

“These mirrors had exquisite geometry and were things of beauty, crafted with skill and care in our

metal shop,” commented Stage One’s Managing Director, Tim Leigh.

With the elaborate set piece and staging, weight was always a top concern and as such Stage One utilised various materials. The form of the upper surface of the mirrors was achieved using an inflatable skin, which was relatively lightweight and met the creative intent well.

“Additionally, we created a central stage unit that rolled onto the field of play on pneumatic tyres to minimise impacts,” Leigh added. “Each mirror had a hydraulic actuated heel that allowed it to raise up to the stage level.”

Suspending the screens posed a significant logistical task, which Stage One was more than prepared to meet. The company’s on-site activity began with the installation of a 10-line radial cable net, which was joined at a central hub and supported a 21m circular lighting truss. “The cable net also provided the support for the lifting of the five two-tonne mirrors that were hoisted into the roof of the stadium after the ceremony, ahead of the opening match,” Leigh described. “Additional automation was provided to move further scenic that traversed the field of play in an arc. A total of 22 axes of automation were delivered, all controlled beautifully using our Qmotion automation system.”

Th e state of the pitch was a major consideration throughout the project not just

for Leigh but the entire production. “This was an ambitious ceremony to hold on a football pitch just before a match was played,” Gobell stated. “The scenic elements were large with significant weights and around 700 crew were required to install and strike. We had limited opportunities to rehearse in situ, and every move became more efficient and better choreographed. We went from 90-plus minutes on the first rehearsal to 29 minutes and 36 seconds on show night.”

ES:ME Entertainment Services dispatched a team of 30 skilled riggers as well as a logistics crew to deliver the production rigging systems for the Opening Ceremony. Dedicating approximately 7,600 man hours and installing more than 300 rigging points, the company was involved from late November until early February. “ES:ME had to create a lot of space out of nowhere,” Gobell recalled, praising the efforts of the ES:ME team. “They did an extraordinary job, and the execution was flawless.”

ES:ME’s Alexander Wuerfel explained how the brief was to utilise the full height of Lusail Stadium. “Our goal was to make sure the rigging was as high as possible, so we were well out of the way of any of the football infrastructure needed during the match,” he noted.

“We invested in some equipment specifically for this project, and we are now the region’s largest supplier of 50m-plus chain hoists.”


For Wuerfel, the project was challenging yet rewarding. “I’m very happy with how we worked as a team and with the precision we showed,” he reflected. “Some of the systems being deployed were highly sensitive and the rigging points for them needed to be installed with pinpoint precision. The audio system, for example, required extreme accuracy, and thankfully all the teams came together to produce a stunning piece of work. Teamwork is the only way you can achieve great results on a project like this.”

‘The largest L2 system ever deployed’

After the company’s successful involvement in designing the audio systems for Lusail and Al Bayt Stadiums at the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Katara Studios engaged Auditoria to come up with a new and improved sound system for the Opening Ceremony. “For the AFC Asian Cup, we were able to plan and coordinate the system design side by side with other functions such as player tracking camera systems and broadcast,” explained Auditoria’s Scott Willsallen.

With the seating bowl laid out in a rounded rectangular shape and the roof structure based around a circle, the first task was to coordinate with the rigging department to get an understanding of what would be possible.

“We then designed the system to best suit the seating bowl geometry within the rigging possibilities,” Willsallen recalled, noting the use of AFMG EASE and L-Acoustics Soundvision to design and optimise the system. L-Acoustics was

once again Willsallen’s manufacturer of choice when it came to the main PA, which consisted of 14 arrays of 10 K2 for the lower bowl, 18 arrays of two L2 over one L2-D for the upper bowl, a delay system of 10 arrays of six K2 and four arrays of four Kara II, 10 sub bass arrays of four KS28 and an under-balcony delay ring of 90 X8 and eight SB10 for VIP near-field roof.

With the 12-second reverb time at Lusail Stadium, Willsallen utilised the cardioid behaviour of the new L2 to improve the overall intelligibility. “The 12-second reverb time was always going to make the delivery of detailed orchestral music and dialogue difficult,” he explained. “So, we leaned into the L2 pattern control to reduce the room excitation as much as possible.”

Background noise was also a challenge. “The air-handling units that surround the seating bowl at low and high levels to deliver air conditioning to the audience were a serious consideration,” Willsallen stated. “The noise floor isn’t something we can change but it required significant reduction in the dynamic range of the music.”

Willsallen retained a sense of perspective when assessing the success of the project. “One tends to maintain a realistic expectation of system performance when faced with 80,000 seats and a 12-second RT,” he reasoned. “The system delivered more clarity and impact than it had any right to given the circumstances.”

He also praised audio supplier, Agora, for its role in procuring the all-important L2 system, which represented a significant proportion of the

world’s L-Series at the time. “Agora managed to assemble the largest L2 system ever deployed, and it was the L2 that made the most significant improvement to the audience experience than any other part of the system,” he concluded.

Tasked with supplying, installing, and maintaining the audio system, Agora once again worked closely with Auditoria on the project.

“It was a pleasure to work with such a fantastic team once again,” began Agora’s Senior Project Manager, Matt Oliver, who talked TPiMEA through the company’s process, which began with an initial discussion with Katara Studios and Auditoria. “During this phase, we gathered the requirements and assessed the stadium’s layout,” he explained. “This helped us to develop a comprehensive plan tailored to the clients’ needs and package a customised system that met the design requirements.”

As well as the main PA, the package included a significant signal distribution system and reinforcement for the VIP areas. “Auditoria opted for an AVB main and AES backup solution,” commented Oliver. “We had to ensure the system was deployed in the safest and cleanest way possible, spread across three catwalks that circled the stadium.”

With over 9,000m of fibre connecting all 21 nodes around the stadium, Oliver was keen to credit Agora’s Head of Audio, Edoardo Michelori. “His meticulous planning and way of organising the prep made this part of the installation very smooth,” he reflected. Once the design was


finalised, the Agora team set about the not insignificant task of procuring the necessary equipment and preparing it for installation. “This involved testing, configuring, and labelling each component to ensure smooth integration and operation during installation,” Oliver explained.

“W ith the equipment prepared, we developed a detailed installation plan that outlined the sequence of tasks, allocation of resources, and timeline for completion,” he added. “This plan considered a range of factors such as access to the stadium, safety considerations, and coordination with other contractors or stakeholders involved in the project.”

With a total of 52 arrays around the stadium, each requiring a laser clinometer and custom cable looms, Agora’s senior PA technicians spent 10 days in the warehouse prepping and labelling all looms according to enclosure type and trim height in the stadium. The team also installed over 80 L-Acoustics X8 loudspeakers, individually patched, to reinforce the VIP booths around the entire 360 of the stadium. “This required a lot of custom-made A-B splits and patience from the crew to install, but the end result was very impressive,” Oliver recalled.

One of the team’s biggest challenges was access in the stadium. “All technology that had to be lifted to the catwalk had to go on chain hoists, which was a slow process that all departments had to deal with,” the Senior PM explained.

“The PA was also a tricky install due to the position of the arrays around the stadium; all lower bowl K2 had to be flown from mobile platforms, and Katara assisted us by providing

mobile scaffolding platforms that we could move around to each array to assist with PA build and lift.” With the installation complete, the Agora team aided Auditoria in a rigorous testing and calibration process to ensure that the system met the required standard. “This involved measuring sound levels, frequency response, coverage patterns, and ensuring seamless integration with other systems, such as broadcast equipment. It was easily one of the biggest infrastructures we have installed,” Oliver reflected.

“O ur efficiency in deployment, meticulous planning and preparation ensured smooth and efficient installation of the entire system. Auditoria’s careful selection of equipment and our precise installation techniques contributed to exceptional sound quality throughout the stadium,” he concluded, praising the 30-person Agora team that contributed to the project.

“Working closely with Scott Willsallen and his team from Auditoria, as well as other stakeholders, resulted in effective communication and collaboration. This allowed us to address challenges promptly and achieve our goals efficiently and deploy the system in a timely manner. The satisfaction of Katara Studios and other stakeholders is paramount. We are pleased to have met and exceeded their expectations, delivering a sound system that enhances the overall stadium experience for spectators and performers alike.”

Th e production also employed a significant communications backbone, courtesy of Riedel. “We had a lot of people on comms, so we needed a robust system,” recalled Gobell. “We used

100-plus Bolero packs on the field of play, with the backbone on MediorNet and two-way radios interfaced. It was rock solid.”

‘A very theatrical show’

Leading the charge for the lighting department was Lighting Designer, Roland Greil. Having worked with the likes of Adele, Genesis, Phil Collins, Rammstein, and The Rolling Stones to name a few, the LD is well accustomed to producing large-scale, spectacular shows, and after being contacted initially by Sila Sveta, Greil started work in earnest around August 2023, before flying to Doha for the first time in midDecember for a week of previsualisation on site.

“The design brief was to create a very theatrical show, with some grand looks and showpiece moments,” he said. “The show was fully broadcasted from all angles, and we needed to help create a high-quality broadcast, while not forgetting the people inside the stadium.”

With the story of the show being a new chapter of an old Arabic tale, Greil’s lighting had to work with the aesthetics of the Arabic world. “It starts with taking the brief and considering that within the conditions of the project,” he stated, explaining his design process. “The first step is to define your lighting positions. I start by sketching and then translate these ideas into more technical CAD drawings using Vectorworks.”

The multitude of stakeholders involved meant that communication was essential. “This was an amazing collaboration with Shannon Gobell, who helped identify all the available lighting positions and made them available to us,” Greil


Lighting team: Markus Neubauer, Troy Eckerman, Roland Greil, Michael Kuehbandner, and Tom Levin

recalled. “Open communication with all the creative departments is the key to success for any large-scale show like this. Lighting is just a single element out of many that are all important to create a full picture.”

With the lighting rig locked in, Greil and his team made use of Syncronorm Depence to previsualise the show as well as to create animatics for the viewing pleasure of all other departments before hitting reality. “We normally have the ‘point of no return’ where we move from the virtual into the real world, and we never look back from that point. However, in this case, 80% of the rig was always there but the part that had to be struck after each rehearsal is the most important bit where all the magic happens, so we always reverted to Depence once the set had been struck,” he explained.

Th e lighting team utilised several positions around the stadium, starting at ground level with an integrated lighting rail surrounding the pitch around 1.6m above ground, which was used for traditional theatrical side lighting as well as some eye candy and fills. “We then went up to our prime key lighting position on level four of the stadium halfway up the grandstand,” Greil described. “This was the prime position for keylight for broadcast as well as live.” Moving upwards, the lighting team also utilised an overhead integrated catwalk as well as a large stadium rigging system directly above the pitch.

‘Firepower is vital’

With the lighting positions ranging from 30-40m throw at ground level up to 110m throw from the overhead catwalks, Greil spoke of the need for “firepower” in the fixture selections. “There are some very specific needs for a stadium show like this and anytime you must overcome huge throw distances, firepower is vital,” he stated. “This brought me to one of the major workhorses of the show: the Elation Proteus Brutus – a lovely wash light that is second to none in terms of pure brightness. It has 75,000 lumens output and is still able to give powerful light with a throw distance of 100m-plus.”

For key light, the LD put his faith in Ayrton Domino Profile and Huracán Profile fixtures. “The Domino Profiles are basically an IP version of the Huracán Profile, so I was able to use them both as if they were the same light,” he explained. “It’s a high-power spotlight and it did a great job as the main key lighting workhorse on level four and the side lighting on pitch level.”

Th e rig was complemented with more Elation Proteus Excalibur – a fixture Greil praised for its “good-sized front lens diameter, giving a nice thick beam” as well as the fact that it packs “plenty of firepower”.

Th e LD also brought the audience into focus for the broadcast by lighting them with SGM P-10 LED floodlights – “an old favourite for this purpose that worked out well.” Away from the

main rig, the scenic was also adorned with Ayrton Huracán Domino wash lights to “light the scenic by itself and also create a lovely shaft of light coming out of the scenic piece when the five LED panels were in their up position,” Greil described. “We extended the lighting outside the stadium with 96 Ayrton Cobras on the roof to create aerial looks. We also used them extensively to extend the roof in the form of light above the open space,” he added.

A se lection of MDG ATMe foggers combined with Martin AF1 and AF2 smoke machines and Smoke Factory Captain D fog machines to create an even haze in the stadium. “If you want to really create moods and scenes and possibly extend the architecture of the beautiful set design, then you need some kind of medium in the air to make light visible,” Greil explained. “We were very lucky to be in Lusail Stadium, as it’s one of the very few stadiums in the world that is 100% climate controlled, so we managed to have a nice even haze, which worked well. It’s much harder when the wind is swirling.”

Fo llow-Me was utilised in a way that Greil described as “a first”. He explained: “I’ve never seen Follow-Me used on a stadium scale where you must cover the whole pitch like this. I’ve used it on multiple rock shows like Rammstein, but there you always have a stage so it’s more of a confined area. In this case, there’s action all over the space so it’s a bigger challenge. We had

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great support from Follow-Me and it proved to be a lifesaver from multiple points of view.

“Traditionally, you’d be looking at 24 follow spots in fixed positions around the stadium, which means you’re limited in terms of angles,” he added, discussing the innovative use of the tracking technology.

“H ere, we calibrated over 400 fixtures to it, which gives a lot of flexibility in terms of not only the number of lights, but more importantly the position of light to follow the action. It also gives the opportunity to use the perfect angle in terms of key lighting for broadcast.”

Th e project also saw the LD utilise an MA Lighting grandMA3 in MA3 mode for the first time on a show of this scale. “It was interesting and brought a lot of advantages over the previous software, because we worked parallel on focusing manually and in the virtual world,” he reported. “It was a steep learning curve. You can sit behind the console in your studio at home and try to mimic everything you might come across, but it’s always different when you get down to working in real life and get into the workflow needed to deliver a show like this. However, we had fantastic support from MA to help us overcome any hurdle, and we’ll certainly look to implement MA3 into our workflow in more big shows in the future.”

Working alongside Greil were: Associate Lighting Designer, Troy Eckerman; Studio Associate and Lighting Programmer, Michael Kuehbandner; Lighting Programmer, Markus

Neubauer; and Design Assistant, Tom Levin Schwenzle. “It was a classic setup in terms of my team with highly talented people I know and trust,” he stated.

Su mmarising his experience on the project, Greil highlighted the importance of collaboration throughout the team. “We worked with old friends and collaborators but also met a lot of new friends. What came out of it was a perfect showcase of what a great collaboration without any egos can achieve,” he commented. “I take my hat off to Shannon because he steered this giant ship to a successful show. It was rewarding and fun, and you can’t ask for more than that.”

Lighting was supplied by PRG, with the project bid and contracting led by Harry Lister from PRG Middle East, and pre-production, planning and delivery driven by Heribert Dohm and Philipp Mack, with local support from Martin Smit.

“A lot of the logistics were handled by the client, meaning the delivery team could focus on the technical aspects of the project rather than worrying about trucks and crew flights,” Lister told TPiMEA, recalling the early stages of the project. “An initial site visit was conducted with the client team to inspect the venue, and it was full steam ahead from that point.”

Given the positioning of some of the lights and the need to work around stadium seating and on rooftops, Lister recalled the time-consuming nature of the load-in. “Thankfully the entire client technical team were super supportive onsite, which made the process a lot smoother,” he

commented. “Once all the fixtures were in place, the system was handed over to Roland Greil and his team for programming, while we remained at their disposal for tweaks and to assist throughout rehearsals and show. The end product was nothing short of amazing.”

According to Lister, the PRG team’s biggest challenge – albeit not an unexpected one when working in any large stadium environment –came from equipment distribution. “We had 96 Ayrton Cobras that needed to be placed on the stadium roof and access was limited,” he recalled. “The team solved this by bringing the fixtures up to the roof with motors, which was time consuming but effective. Networking was also another key element that brought its own set of challenges,” he added. “Luckily, Heribert’s photographic memory and exceptional planning made this a bit easier to deal with.”

While Lister was pleased with the setup from a technical perspective, the biggest sense of satisfaction came from the reaction of the crowd on show night. “Seeing the show come together in front of a packed Lusail Stadium was certainly a moment to remember,” he reflected. “We would like to thank Katara Studios, Shannon Gobell and Roland Greil for their trust and continued support throughout the project and look forward to working alongside them again soon.”

‘Unparalleled custom graphic effects’

A prominent feature of the show was the dropping of thousands of custom-made rose


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petals, which occurred several times throughout the production, creating a visually striking, celebratory effect. With numerous logistical and technical challenges that needed to be addressed to achieve the desire effect, Katara Studios called upon AVM-SFX to provide a solution that would fit the bill.

“The size and material of the petals was one of the challenges but also the density the petals were supposed to fall had to be fully controllable,” explained AVM-SFX’s Emerson Wellens. “Also important was the ability to reload the devices easily at 50m height. We tried several solutions and managed to provide a tailor-made solution that made it rain the custom rose petals smoothly and for long periods.”

Another consideration for the AVM-SFX team was ensuring that the petals didn’t block the path of any of the lighting fixtures. “We supplied a total of 28 Magic FX Swirlfans, 26 Magic FX stage fan XLs, eight PosiFans, and our bespoke air pressure ring system, which was hidden in the stage and ensured that the light fixtures remained free of falling rose petals,” Wellens described. “Everything ran on timecode, controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA3 Full Size console.”

More than 1,200m of fibre had to be pulled, as the system had to run from FOH on the second floor all the way to the circle hanging 50m above the field of play. “With the access considerations, we needed only the best and most reliable solution to deliver a perfect contribution to this opening ceremony,” Wellens reflected. “We tested several ideas and concepts to make sure we could deliver each of the effects that were required by Katara Studios.”

With limited space inside the stage and weight required to be kept to a bare minimum, planning was key to the success of the project. “We had to keep in mind that the stage broke up into several elements and there was a very limited setup and strike time. The well-coordinated advancing from Hanré Rossouw, Katara Studios’ Technical SFX Manager, helped us to deliver what was asked and within a minimal time frame,” Wellens added. “It was thanks to the professionalism of our crew on site that made it all happen.”

The visual spectacle was further amplified by PixMob, which was brought in to “transform the audience into a giant screen to expand the show into the seats”. Audrey Houle, Account Manager EMEA, explained the company’s brief: “We were asked to display a countdown into the crowd, Arabic lettering and other advanced motion graphics using infrared video projectors,” she commented, explaining that the process began with the PixMob team assessing the feasibility of the idea, before adapting the creative vision and content to their lighting technology and system.

The PixMob solution involved handing out the company’s proprietary Ultrabright LED Badge to each of the 80,000 spectators in the crowd. “To control the wearables, we used our new controller, the Moving Visual Transmitter (MVT), to push our visual effects further,” Houle stated. “With this new controller, we can create unparalleled custom graphic effects across the crowd. In this case, we used it to project a countdown at the beginning of the ceremony and video content such as ribbons and butterflies flying around in harmony with the storyline, dancers’ and actors’ performances on stage and other visual elements of the show.”

While the technology has been used before –on the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show, as well as


for the VIP Swifties at Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour – this was the first time that the company had ever deployed it at its full 360°capacity.

“We overcame the various technical challenges associated with integrating the MVT into a 360° projection, mapping around the venue, and deployment of the content onto the pixels to produce a fantastic end result,” Houle concluded. “This project was an awesome collaboration with other great creative partners, Katara Studios and Sila Sveta.”

The final visual flourish came in the form of spectacular pyrotechnics, provided by LunatX. “Our brief was to execute six individual musicsynchronised pyrotechnic segments within the opening show,” said LunatX’s Patrick Kennedy. “In addition to the main pyro installation on the roof of the Lusail Stadium; there was also a pyrotechnical install on the catwalk of the stadium, which served to stage the countdown of the show.”

With just five weeks from getting the green light to show day, the LunatX team had to handle everything from show design, animations and system design to dangerous goods logistics from Europe to Qatar, project management, equipment supply and installation, all in a compressed timeframe. “The lead time was definitely the biggest challenge for us, yet with the right suppliers and partners and very good cooperation with Katara Studios, we were also able to overcome this hurdle, and supply our pyrotechnics to this incredibly beautiful opening ceremony,” Kennedy stated.

‘Bringing the power’

Bringing power to the production was Aggreko, which designed, installed, and commissioned

all primary and secondary power requirements, maintaining service throughout all the technical aspects of the Opening Ceremony.

“The requirement was for 10MVA of generators, supplied as five 1000kVA on either side of Lusail Stadium, all delivered from our local Doha depot,” explained Aggreko’s Event Sector Leader, Adam Rhodes. “We installed approximately 50km of heavy main cables along with required distribution boards, spanning across the whole stadium with the bulk of the install in the catwalks and onto the roof, levels one, two, four and seven.”

Long cable runs onto the roof required access from several different areas, with cable bins and distribution boards hoisted onto the catwalks. “We supplied the bulk of the power to the winch farms that played the key part in the live show, and these lifted the petals during the performance as well as providing critical power supply to the audio, visual and lighting elements,” Rhodes added. “The level four lighting also proved a challenge, as our only route into the seating area was through limiting duct ways, but we successfully managed to get all our supplies through and ran heavy mains around the entire perimeter of the seating bowl with zero cables on show, to feed the lighting racks.”

Another of the biggest challenges involved the set piece in the centre of the field of play. “We had cables ran on both the inside and outside of the stage and once it was set in position, we only had a short time to connect all cabling up correctly and energise the stage, starting with all the actuators that lifted the stage up and down and then the lighting, video and pyro,” Rhodes revealed. “The real pressure was after the final performance where staging, scenic and

technical kit was required to be struck within a very short timeframe. However, as the actuators were the last thing to be powered down, we had to be careful what we disconnected and how we removed the cabling.”

Overall, Rhodes was delighted with the performance of both the Aggreko team on-site and in the supporting depots. “They all did a fantastic job and delivered the complex project flawlessly,” he concluded.

Gobell agreed with Rhodes’ appraisal: “We had a large power load and Aggreko did an outstanding job, installing everything in record time,” he commented.

“Pre-match ceremonies come with inherent challenges, but this one had a life of its own, with movie-style trailers in the weeks leading up to the show building the public’s excitement not just for the match, but also for the show itself,” he continued. “We were constantly pushing the boundaries in every aspect of this production; I believe that we raised the bar for this type of prematch celebration – and all the stakeholders had a role in making that happen.”

Photos: Katara Studios, Ralph Larmann

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QVision stars at the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023

The Qatari event management company showcases its prowess with a multifaceted delivery at its home tournament.

Following the resounding success of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 was the perfect opportunity for Qatar to reaffirm its status as a leading international destination for sporting events. Aside from the Opening Ceremony, the wider tournament represented an extremely long-term project, encompassing a multitude of elements. Right from the tournament’s inception up to its execution, QVision played a central role in every stage of the process.

“Through meticulous planning and groundbreaking solutions, QVision elevated every aspect of the event to new heights,” explained QVision CEO, Artistic Director and Executive Producer, Sharif Hashisho. “From orchestrating

the grandeur of the Final Draw to implementing technical overlays across all nine stadiums, our expertise shone through. Our seamless execution of stadium infotainment, pre-match ceremonies, the coronation ceremony, and fan zone activations ensured an unforgettable experience for both spectators and participants.”

Fo llowing a rigorous tendering process, QVision secured contracts for several pivotal aspects of the tournament. As well as the implementation of comprehensive technical AV overlays across all nine stadiums, the company installed more than 3km of LED screens to adorn the entirety of Lusail Stadium during the opening and closing matches. “QVision undertook the development, production, and delivery of

stadium infotainment for all 51 matches, ensuring a captivating spectator experience throughout,” Hashisho described, explaining how he and his team led the creation of bespoke pre-match ceremonies, incorporating custom props and special effects to elevate viewer engagement.

“QVision orchestrated the coronation ceremony and fireworks finale, marking a poignant culmination of the tournament,” he added. “We also curated engaging fan zone activations, fostering an immersive and enjoyable environment for all attendees.”

The company also designed, supplied, and operated a comprehensive technical delivery in all nine stadiums’ control rooms, with everything from audio consoles, vision mixers, video and audio replay equipment and wired and wireless communication networks, to multiple monitoring devices, content and graphics playback servers, as well as microphones and in-ear monitors for all presenters provided.

Inside Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium and Lusail Stadium, QVision installed and operated enhanced audio systems to address areas not adequately covered by existing legacy systems, integrating with host broadcasters and competition departments to transmit broadcast and VAR signals to these control rooms.

Th e company also installed more than 800 moving lights, eight MA Lighting grandMA3 consoles along with associated MPUs and network switchers across six stadiums, which enhanced the pre-match ceremony viewing experience and allowed complete control of stadium lighting, programmed to synchronise with infotainment music and provided entertainment. The LED supply meanwhile comprised an upper wave-shaped display and two middle ribbons. Additionally, screens were installed above each entry vomitory, and the players’ benches were adorned with LED wraps.

QV ision was also entrusted with the development, production, and delivery of stadium infotainment for all 51 matches. “Our


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creative approach entailed developing and delivering multiple concepts for each match, encompassing announcements, music, lighting, screens, graphics, and entertainment,” Hashisho recalled. “Our Infotainment kits handled a mix of multicam match coverage, replays and VAR, commentator analysis and interview angles. It also took care of advertising, broadcast graphics and statistics going out to big screens throughout each venue. Live PGM mix gave spectators every insight needed to enhance their match experience, keeping it fresh and energetic to match the tournament’s fun vibe.”

‘The best AFC Asian Cup ever’

With each stadium boasting its own unique aesthetic, QVision crafted over 30 hours of bespoke visual content and graphic sets tailored to each venue. “The CGI work was extensive, involving the creation of massive animated content to enhance the stadium atmosphere and provide information to fans,” Hashisho explained.

Ad ditionally, QVision supplied four RF cameras independent of the official broadcasters to capture specific, unique content for display on the stadium screens. “We stationed four

multilingual presenters in various areas within the stadium, while our music department meticulously curated the ultimate music hits library featuring tracks from each of the 24 participating teams,” he added. “The library also included short jingles unique to each of the 24 teams, triggered at the exhilarating moment of a goal being scored.”

QV ision also handled the pre-match ceremonies for every match at the tournament. “This encompassed the casting of 500 prematch ceremonies cast and crew, the production of banners for all 24 participating teams, and the creation of all centre circle stadium banners,” Hashisho revealed.

“We also manufactured four identical giant inflatable trophies, each with its unique platform hosting moving lights and special effects equipment. Furthermore, we designed a distinctive four-piece giant inflatable trophy exclusively for the final match.

“The technical equipment housed within the inflatable trophy platforms was meticulously controlled via timecode generated by the overlaid MA Lighting grandMA3 consoles in each stadium. Special effects such as sparkulas, jets,

and CO2 smoke were also integrated into the platform equipment provided.”

As well as being a success for Qatar as a nation, the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 also brought on-pitch success for the country’s football team, with Qatar winning the tournament for the second time in a row. This achievement was celebrated with a spectacular coronation ceremony, which was developed, produced, and delivered by QVision.

“W ith a meticulous approach to design and development, we presented over 30 distinct stage designs for the AFC to choose from, ensuring a truly unique and captivating experience,” Hashisho explained, recalling how the company was also responsible for the design, supply, installation, and operation of 500 lighting fixtures strategically placed around the stadium. “The participation of His Highness the Amir of the State of Qatar added a significant level of prestige to this exceptional segment of the final match, further highlighting the importance and grandeur of the event.”

QV ision was also a key partner for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 Fan Zone, positioned strategically near Lusail Stadium, with the


company playing a crucial role in conceptualising, designing, and executing the experience. The space featured a total of 60 stacks of Meyer Sound line array speakers, controlled by a DiGiCo Quantum 7, while 650 moving lights combined with 1,600 sq m of high-resolution LED screens.

For Director of Operations Mostafa Abdelhay, the project was a resounding success. “I am profoundly honoured by the success of our team in delivering an unparalleled experience,” he stated. “This achievement underscores our relentless dedication to precision and quality in every endeavour. It further solidifies our reputation as a leader in event management.”

Hashisho concluded: “We are immensely honoured and proud to have played a pivotal role in delivering the best AFC Asian Cup ever. This achievement stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation. It adds another remarkable milestone to our track record of successfully orchestrating major international events, including the recent FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. At QVision, we strive continually to surpass expectations and leave a legacy of exceptional event management.”


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Photos: QVision

UNTOLD Dubai 2024

Dubai’s first ever mega-festival transforms Expo City for a multi-stage, multi-day party that won’t be forgotten in a hurry…

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Dubai can mix it with the world’s best destinations in terms of one-off live events and celebrations, but historically, when it comes to ‘proper’ multi-day festivals, the emirate has never really managed to stick the landing.

However, all this changed in February when the world-famous UNTOLD Festival brought its inimitable brand of musical magic to the city, holding the first ever UNTOLD Dubai at Expo City. Hosting a plethora of artists representing a range of genres across multiple stages over four action-packed days, this was a ‘proper’ festival in every sense of the word.

“U NTOLD Dubai exceeded our expectations, and the response from attendees has been phenomenal,” Edy Chereji, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of UNTOLD Universe commented. “We are very grateful for the support and enthusiasm from fans worldwide and are delighted that everyone shared the joy of this exceptional musical experience.”

With the original UNTOLD Festival in Romania known for its huge EDM line-ups, imaginative stage design, high-end production values and joyous atmosphere, the pressure was well and truly on when it came to translating this for the Dubai market. “Our usual method of creating a

festival is to envision it how we would like it to be; to create it and plan according to this vision and then to find technical solutions to produce it on site. This approach allows us to dream big, to put all ideas on the table and then to organise the creative chaos,” explained Production Manager, Alexandra Mihali, revealing that an altogether different approach was required for the Dubai iteration of the festival.

“For UNTOLD Dubai, we started from the local market, exploring what it has to offer. We took several months to visit providers and try to understand what equipment was available locally, what the local vendors can produce and how. This gave us a clear grasp of the industry and allowed us to plan accordingly,” she revealed. “We took this approach because we were in a country that was new to us, with unfamiliar rules, and a beautiful but complicated location, so we wanted to minimise our risk.”

While working with previously vetted providers and designing the festival around local availability helped with timelines, budgeting and managing expectations, the PM was keen to point out that the festival maintained the same ethos as its Romanian counterpart. “We infused the experience with the ‘UNTOLD spirit’,

with most of the European team such as sound technicians, light operators, show designers, site production team, and VJs all on site in Dubai,” she noted. “We felt this would offer the best compromise and be the logical meeting point between the two worlds.”

Mihali expanded on the main challenge of the project – the “wonderful but complicated” Expo City festival location. “There are very clear rules in place for events at Expo City – most of which were put in place during Expo 2020.

Understanding and applying all these rules, in a festival scenario that is very dynamic and fast paced was the most difficult task for our team,” she explained. “From health and safety rules, to permits to work in the location for the different providers, all these processes are documented and approved by several departments, which takes time. Our field of work sometimes requires fast intervention, no matter how much you plan.”

A key partner in overcoming these challenges was A Loud Minority (ALM), which came onboard as a consultant to help ease UNTOLD’s entry into the region, as well as assisting with vendor management and overseeing technical production on the festival’s secondary stages.

“The UNTOLD team famously handle the vast


majority of their festivals in-house,” stated ALM Director, Karl Jenkins. “Where we added value to the project was with our local knowledge and my personal experience of working within the Expo City site and awareness of the health and safety and permit requirements of operating there.”

ALM and UNTOLD worked closely with Gallowglass Health and Safety Middle East, which was first tasked with developing a comprehensive Event Safety Management Plan (ESMP) – outlining the event overview, management structure, and pertinent safety legislation and regulations of the UAE – before promptly being engaged as the event’s safety and crowd management contractor.

“W ith Gallowglass staff embedded in the project from early January 2024, our focus shifted to developing safety management and crowd management strategies for the live event, as well as managing onsite safety during the site build,” explained Senior Safety Advisor and Branch Manager, Declan Meenan. “This included working closely with Expo City Dubai to comply with its rigorous permit-to-work system, ensuring

adherence to high standards of health and safety, worker welfare policies, and professionalism.”

Key to the company’s approach was the development of crowd-management strategies aimed at maintaining safety, minimising congestion, and ensuring the smooth flow of attendees throughout the festival grounds.

“This encompassed detailed plans for ingress and egress, crowd density monitoring, and communication protocols,” Meenan described, highlighting the importance of meticulous documentation throughout. “Our dedicated team worked tirelessly to ensure that every aspect of the plan was executed seamlessly, from training and briefing staff, security personnel, and volunteers to deploying health and safety professionals to oversee onsite operations and address emergent safety concerns promptly.”

Reflecting on the project, ALM’s Jenkins recalled the “great working relationship” between the ALM and UNTOLD teams. “We have very similar values and the collaboration turned into a great partnership,” he commented. “The support of all the vendors was invaluable. We were

delighted with our role in helping to achieve the quality of technical production required, on time and within budget. The entire festival had such a cool and fun vibe, with people flying in from all over the world especially to attend – it was unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Dubai.”

‘Future meets magic’

Described as ‘Dubai’s first mega-festival’, UNTOLD Dubai took over Expo City for four nights in February, with four unique stages hosting more than 100 artists – from Armin van Buuren, Hardwell and Andy C, to Chase & Status, PSY, and Ellie Goulding.

Th e biggest draw was the Main Stage – a bespoke-built structure dripping in high-end technology. “We started the design process for the Main Stage by thinking about how our fantasy-infused world at UNTOLD Europe looks in Dubai – a place where technology and futurism is at home, but also in a deeply diverse atmosphere that is the hub of the world,” Mihali described.

With the brief of ‘future meets magic’, the UNTOLD creative team developed a Main Stage



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design based on “an ancient magical, spiritual, yet ultra-advanced civilisation that built a portal with the ability to connect worlds”. The PM added: “Through the Main Stage’s celestial archways, the festival goers became explorers and could traverse the time-space continuum, experiencing an explosive show made of music, lights, video and special effects, unlocking feelings that lie beyond the limits of expression.”

All Events Services (AES) worked in collaboration with the UNTOLD team to create the Main Stage structure, which measured 49m long, with a roof height of 14m, and 20m-wide span. The company was also engaged to provide: a customised FOH with accompanying scaffold towers and back wall; two mega multi-tiered VIP structures; pyro, delay, camera, and lighting towers; and 20m-long scaffold bars.

The AES team arrived on site three-and-ahalf weeks before opening night, establishing the base for the bespoke Main Stage, measuring 61m long, 20m wide, and 16m high, using the Layher scaffold system. They also initiated the construction of the two VIP structures, which were erected using the cuplock scaffold system.

Within just four days, the VIP structures were almost complete, meanwhile the stage wings

were prepared and the AES team commenced construction of the asterix roof arches at ground level, which would later be lifted to full height and secured with the assistance of a 100-tonne crane, cherry picker and scissor lift. During this phase, the company also erected fiver Layher lighting towers, three Layher pyro platform towers, and two cuplock serving bars, as well as 20m black steel single-mast PA towers, which were installed using a 100-tonne crane, specifically for the main stage area.

A custom FOH structure with two lighting towers and an LED screen support was also constructed, while custom rollerbeams were provided for the AV load-in, which commenced a week before opening. Subsequently AES crew filled in the stage floor and began constructing the 18m long catwalk. The VIP structures were then finished, featuring 18mm ply cladding, custom steps, ramps, handrails, as well as black netting and paint in some areas.

AES’s role didn’t end once preparations were complete, with the company supplying stage decks and accessories for DJs and driving the catwalk dismantle in just 15 minutes between sets on the Saturday night, before rebuilding after the show. Load-out began in the early morning

after the last night of the festival and the site was cleared in under a week.

‘Planned to perfection’

PRG provided a turnkey audio, video, lighting and rigging solution for the Main Stage, as well as the Time Stage. “As soon as we heard that UNTOLD was coming to Expo City Dubai, we were very keen to get involved,” stated Harry Lister, Director of Account Management for PRG Middle East, who led the project from a client liaison and commercial perspective, with Martin Smit, Oleksii Kalensyki and Terence Collings driving pre-production and delivery. “We also brought in Jason Dixon as Lighting Crew Chief from our UK office, as he had worked on the festival in Romania and brought a wealth of knowledge to the project,” Lister added.

Working alongside Chris Sabelleck from the UNTOLD production team for the Main Stage and ALM’s Jenkins for the Time Stage, PRG deployed a massive 350 loudspeakers, 400 sq m of LED screens and 800-plus lighting fixtures across the site. “From the very start, our crew chiefs were talking directly to their UNTOLD counterparts across all departments, which made the whole process a lot easier and allowed the team to


quickly react to changes and additions at pace,” Lister commented. “The overall site infrastructure provided by the UNTOLD team was very accommodating and much appreciated by the crew onsite.”

The Main Stage audio deployment comprised more than 250 L-Acoustics loudspeakers, including K1, K2, Kara, SB28, SB18 and a range of X15 HiQ and X12, all working off LA12X amplifiers. “We also supplied a DiGiCo Quantum 7 and SD10 for FOH, along with an SD5 and SD12 for monitor world,” Lister revealed. “A comprehensive fibre network and drive system was also installed for the event, as well as a huge variety of microphone packages to accommodate all of the artists.”

The extensive Main Stage lighting rig featured a range of Ayrton fixtures including Cobra, Domino Profile, and Argo FX, as well as GLP GDC1 and Fusion Sticks, and CLF Ares, with the VIP covered by a combination of SGM Q-7 and PRG Icon Edge. “We also provided four GroundControl Followspot units with Ayrton Domino Profiles and a further 10 Dominos on FOH towers,” Lister described, adding that control was driven via three MA Lighting grandMA3 Full Size consoles.

Video-wise, a total of 400 sq m of INFiLED AR4 LED was installed across the Main Stage and delays. Screen Management was driven via an Analog Way Aquilon RS4+ and production supplied Resolume Media Servers, with PRG also deploying a further pair of grandMA3 consoles for video world.

For the Time Stage meanwhile, PRG supplied another L-Acoustics PA with a Yamaha CL5 for control; a lighting rig featuring Ayrton Cobra and Argo 6 FX as well as SGM Q-7 fixtures; and three self-standing circular truss structures, which sat on the balconies surrounding the venue and were adorned with Astera Titan Tubes.

Aside from some rain during load-in, Lister was pleased to report that the project ran very smoothly. “The number of artist turnarounds provided a challenge, but UNTOLD had a great team onsite to assist us with these changes and make sure the right gear was onstage at the right time,” he reflected. “We were very pleased with the overall delivery. All teams onsite went the extra mile, however, one thing that caught everyone’s attention was the pace of the LED load in. A big shoutout to Michael Perry, PRG Video Crew Chief, who planned it to perfection.”

‘A big impact’

Adding some sparkle to proceedings was AVM-SFX, which supplied an extensive special effects package that could be used frequently by many of the performing artists. “It was important to provide very strong visual effects that had a big impact and left a lasting impression on the visitors,” said AVM-SFX’s Technical Manager, Hanré Rossouw, explaining the brief.

Th e SFX specialist has a long history with UNTOLD, having been involved in the Romanian event every year since it was approached to support the festival’s SFX and pyrotechnic supplier, Temexson, in 2017.

“AVM-SFX has always had a strong presence in the Middle East, so when we heard that UNTOLD was planning a Dubai edition, we were keen to maintain the same co-operation with Temexson,” Rossouw explained.

“We also will have our own warehouse in Dubai set to open in August, which should help

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to ensure our customers in the region have an unforgettable and safe experience.”

Th e supply included a range of top-tier equipment, including Flame Blazer Heads on top of the Main Stage that received fluid from twobrand-new Magic FX pump system. “We also supplied Showven Sparkular IIs and Sonicboom Jets, which are a much more sustainable option than CO2 jets,” Rossouw added, mentioning the provision of Magic FX Stadium Shot III, Stadium Blasters, and Stage Blowers, as well as MDG ME2 and Hazebase high-powered smoke machines.

“We used 1,600 litres of Isopar, 1,920 bags of streamers along with 432kg of confetti.”

Th e AVM-SFX Technical Manager highlighted preparation as key to the project’s success.

“All the detailed planning and the fact that we’re working with some very dedicated and professional local suppliers makes life a lot easier once on site,” he commented. “Also, knowing the UNTOLD production team for so long means we know what to expect from each other. It has been a privilege to be part of creating history as Dubai hosted its first mega-festival. None of this would be possible without an outstanding group of experienced technicians and operators that build it, safely operate it, and take it all down.”

‘A synergistic approach’

With involvement spanning across multiple divisions and departments of the festival, Al Laith was a key player behind the scenes of UNTOLD Dubai. The company’s primary responsibility involved the design, engineering, and construction of three of the four stages. Al Laith

also supplied around 400m of Mojo barrier for crowd safety across the festival and constructed the substructure for the multilevel Virgin Radio Pavilion. Additionally, the Site Services Division provided essential amenities, including VIP toilet cabins, artist backstage green rooms, and a container for firework storage.

Th e project kicked off with a thorough design and engineering phase. “Our Projects Division took the lead in designing the stage constructions, ensuring they met the highest aesthetic and safety standards,” explained Al Laith’s Vincent Nibbering. “The Alchemy Stage, the largest of the three, boasted a performance width of 20m and a rigging capacity of 40 tonnes. The smaller Galaxy and Time stages were custom designed to integrate seamlessly with the unique features of Expo City’s epic Al Wasl Dome and the famous waterfalls, respectively.”

The logistical complexity of transporting and installing large-scale infrastructure within the constrained and high-security environment of Expo City was one of Al Laith’s most significant challenges. “Managing the ‘wide load’ categorised equipment – particularly the large stages and barriers – required meticulous planning and coordination with local authorities to secure necessary permits and police escorts for transportation,” Nibbering recalled.

Another notable challenge was the stringent permit-to-work process at Expo City, which demanded comprehensive documentation and adherence to strict safety and operational protocols. “Our team’s proactive approach and diligent coordination with the festival organisers

and venue authorities were crucial in navigating these bureaucratic hurdles efficiently, ensuring that all phases of the project proceeded without delay,” he added.

“The professional and collaborative effort with our clients – the UNTOLD Festival organisers, Expo, and The Arabian Radio Network – was a source of immense pride,” Nibbering shared. “This partnership facilitated a synergistic approach, enabling us to overcome challenges and contribute significantly to the event’s success. Our involvement was not just a service delivery but a testament to our capability to enhance the overall festival experience, which we found exceptionally gratifying. We look forward to future opportunities to contribute to such prestigious events, continuing our tradition of excellence in the event services sector.”

‘The unique 360° environment’ Production rigging requirements on the Galaxy Stage at Al Wasl Plaza were handled by Pitchblack. “We were pleased to be brought on board by ALM to support the project and worked closely with TD Karl Jenkins to design and deliver the project,” stated Pitchblack’s Technical Project Director, Mark Hammond. “We have delivered multiple projects at Expo City and always enjoy working closely with Miguel Negrete and the greater Expo City team.”

Pitchblack used their 20m diameter, 52cm by 52cm Novalite Circular Truss with subhung Chainmaster hoists to support the flown audio, which was provided by Agora. “The system was monitored with BroadWeigh load cells and


anemometer to monitor live loads and wind speeds in the dome,” Hammond added.

“The rigging plot and initial design was driven through Production Assist, meaning we could gather extremely accurate data to give to our engineer. As ever, Rasti Bartek at Cundall was invaluable, with his extensive knowledge of the Al Wasl Dome structure.”

Agora supplied audio and lighting overlay kits as well as dedicated crew for the Galaxy Stage. Head of Technical, Ricky Ceconi detailed the audio deployment. “Due to the unique 360° environment and the unavailability of the central stage, the performance area had to be redesigned as a detached stage with a groundstacked PA as an addition to the main PA rigged on a circular truss hanging from the dome,” Ceconi described.

All speakers were L-Acoustics, with the stage equipped with a left and right ground-stacked PA made of two clusters of six K2 cabinets each and five clusters of three KS28 subwoofers in cardioid mode. A15 Focus and Wide were used as front fills and special fills to cover specific spots around the DJ riser, while six Kara II and four KS21 were used as DJ monitor systems.

The flown PA comprised five clusters of 12 K2 cabinets each on a circular configuration, with seven stacks of three KS28 distributed

underneath the five flown arrays. “The aim was to create that punch effect combined with a general need for a consistent and homogeneous audio coverage,” Ceconi explained.

A total of 54 LA12X amplifiers were used to run the system. The I/O signal distribution was based on a redundant Optocore loop, which included one SD7Q double engine, one SD Rack, one SD mini Rack, one Optocore DD32, and one Optocore X6R.

Shure Axient AD4Q with Show Link, AXT600 and PSM 1000 IEM systems ensured a reliable RF system. The control network meanwhile was based on Luminex 26i and 14R switches connected through a fibre infrastructure to connect the FOH, amp nodes and the stage.

For lighting, besides using the extensive permanent Al Wasl Plaza system, Agora enhanced the rig with some additional lights as part of the stage floor gear. A set of eight LED strobe and eight LED wash lights covered the crowd, with eight Ayrton Huracàn profiles creating a dynamic display behind the DJ. An extra MA Lighting grandMA3 Full Size in MA3 mode was supplied at FOH for the overlay.

‘A labour of love’

The Alchemy Stage benefitted from a turnkey technical and operational package, courtesy of

Flair Event Services. “This was a true passion project for us, having been in touch with the UNTOLD team for at least a couple of years prior to the Dubai festival,” revealed Flair’s Technical Director, Marno Snyman. “Some of our team visited the European festival, and seeing what they created, the scale of their production and the reaction of the crowd was truly inspiring. Helping the UNTOLD team to recreate that in Dubai was a huge challenge, but one we were extremely excited to be a part of.”

Adapting the Jubilee Stage used at Expo 2020, Flair brought in a significant technical overlay to fulfil UNTOLD’s vision for the Alchemy Stage. “The visual concept came from the UNTOLD team, and we made some minor adjustments based on sight lines and rigging capacities,” Snyman explained, outlining the company’s early involvement on the project.

“We also responded to the various tech riders from the back-to-back schedule of top artists, ensuring that the setup would work for all the incoming performers.”

Flair deployed a d&b audiotechnik PA, featuring KSL8 and KSL12 loudspeakers and GSUBs, with V-Series used for front and side fills as well as on-stage sound. A Yamaha CL5 was at FOH, with DiGiCo SD7 and SD10 on monitors. “Hearing the d&b KSL firing was an eye-opening

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experience. It had outstanding clarity,” Snyman stated. “We had to ensure that we controlled the sound so as not to affect the other stages and areas of the festival, and d&b ArrayProcessing helped us manage it perfectly. We had plenty of power and without needing to push the PA.”

Th e lighting rig was made up mainly of Robe MegaPointes and Spiiders, combined with GLP JDC1s and impression X4 Bar 20s, controlled by two MA Lighting grandMA3 consoles with four MA NPUs. The video supply meanwhile comprised 180 sq m of INFiLED GXMK2 3.9mm LED, with NovaStar MCTRL 4K processing, running content through Resolume.

“Everything was built, tested and programmed in our warehouse,” Snyman revealed, discussing Flair’s extensive preparation process. “Much of the lighting programming work was done in Syncronorm Depence, in our previs suite. All the hardware for every department was fully prepped, which meant that by the time we’d moved onto site, the entire setup was effectively a very big plug-and-play solution.”

With a range of genres represented on the Alchemy Stage, it was important to provide a flexible setup that would be appropriate for both DJs and bands. After installation, the majority of Flair’s input came in terms of managing the stage flow. “It was a big challenge to go between having a massive DJ riser and into a five-piece band in under 10-minute changeovers,” Snyman recalled. “We redesigned a few elements so we could shift in and out easily in an incredibly narrow backstage space.”

Flair’s Technical Director was also keen to credit Unusual Rigging for the stage’s full top rigging scope and MEI for supplying a massive amount of backline. “Without them, we would not have been able to pull off this project as smoothly as we did,” he stated.

“O ur brief was to deliver a turnkey solution and to take away any potential hassle for UNTOLD – and we’re delighted with how the team performed,” Snyman concluded. “The amount of compliments we received on how the stage looked and sounded was very pleasing. This project was a long time in the making, a real labour of love and something we’re extremely proud of.”

Summarising her experience, UNTOLD’s Mihali looked back fondly on the internationally diverse environment and professional people she encountered in Dubai. “I was very pleased to see different categories of public attending, enjoying the experience to its fullest. From a production perspective, I was ecstatic to see how smooth everything went during show days and how everyone worked together to achieve this mega festival,” she concluded. “I learned a lot from this experience and I’m already looking forward to UNTOLD Dubai 2025.”

Photos: UNTOLD


Saadiyat Nights: Tom Jones

As an eclectic cast of A-list stars descend on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island for a series of concerts, TPiMEA takes in a stellar performance from legendary Welsh singer, Tom Jones…

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The words ‘luxury’ and ‘festival’ don’t usually go hand-in hand. However, when it comes to Saadiyat Nights – a series of concerts held at a purpose-built temporary venue a stone’s throw away from the beach at Saadiyat Island – there’s no doubt that this is a truly high-end enterprise. Welcoming a variety of A-list artists including Mariah Carey, Googoosh, Andrea Bocelli, Sting, Magida El Roumi, Alicia Keys, Tom Jones, and John Legend over a twomonth period, the festival set a new standard for upscale live entertainment in the UAE.

“The festival site is absolutely amazing,” began Jonathan West, Senior Operations and Production Manager for AVANTGARDE, which was tasked by Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi and Miral with producing the festival. “The location is perfect; right by the beach, close to a range of F&B outlets and with plenty of parking nearby.”

TPiMEA got to witness the festival firsthand during Tom Jones’ performance on the penultimate night of the run, which was promoted by Live Nation Middle East. “Bringing Tom Jones back to the region was an absolute pleasure and a highlight for me in this first Saadiyat Nights season,” commented Live Nation

Middle East President, James Craven. “This new open-air, purpose-built venue on Saadiyat Island created a truly unique destination and event. As Tom Jones closed off the final weekend of the season, we thoroughly enjoyed creating such an unforgettable experience with a true music legend like Tom.”

Sp eaking from on stage ahead of the performance, AVANTGARDE’s West described the journey that the team had been on to reach that point. “We started with three empty plots, and we decided to go with the stage positioned so the Zayed National Museum would be in the background,” he recalled, gesturing towards the impressive building. “We had to design everything from scratch, and we were finetuning as the project progressed. I think our CAD drawings changed 70 times within the build process alone!”

With nothing less than a luxurious finish required, AVANTGARDE pulled out all the stops for the site build. “It’s a high-end festival and everything on site needed to reflect that,” West explained. “Everything from the bathroom facilities to the seating was carefully considered. We tested several different types and seating arrangements and even built in little cubby holes

for people to put their bags and drinks, which is a great touch that improves the festival experience for the concertgoers.”

West acknowledged that there’s “always something that could be improved upon”, he was delighted with the result. “The fact that we built a 5,000-capacity amphitheatre, complete with a luxury pre-function area, from a patch of sand is incredibly pleasing,” he commented. “We haven’t seen anything like this in the UAE before. For a temporary build, the level of detail is incredible.”

‘A massive achievement’

With an eclectic roster of top-level artists performing throughout the festival, an extensive technical solution was required. AVANTGARDE put its faith in Protec, which supplied a turnkey solution including audio, comms, lighting, video, rigging, and staging, as well as its distinctive Supadome roof structure via the company’s staging and structures division.

Having been utilised primarily on projects in Saudi Arabia until recently, Protec’s Supadome is usually deployed as a self-contained temporary indoor venue that can accommodate up to 6,000 people and be built in just seven days. However, for Saadiyat Nights, the flexibility of the


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solution came into its own, as an end section of the structure was deployed as the large domeshaped roof.

“It’s very different from the standard boxshaped roof you see on shows everywhere,” stated Protec’s Senior Account Manager and Project Lead, Aaron Merchant. “It’s got the kind of look that you might usually associate with EDM, but we’ve shown that it can be transformed for everything from pop and rock to classical, and it looks stunning.”

Protec’s Senior Project Manager Pieter Smuts took the lead on the build, alongside Structures Project Manager Xolani S. Mhlongo, while Senior PM Leigh Snyman oversaw the staging supply, which included 623m of Layher staging, and Head of Rigging Qasir Ali ensured a safe and efficient technical load-in.

Production Manager Tinashe Lionel Machekano oversaw the complex technical deployment, which comprised the initial installation of the festival rig, followed by several

new iterations and changes to accommodate each incoming international artist. “It’s been a tough but extremely enjoyable gig,” Machekano stated, summing up his experience on the project as it reached its penultimate evening.

Th e transition from Sting to Andrea Bocelli proved to be an especially challenging one, as it required the PA to be moved outside the Supadome and the lighting rig to be reconfigured completely to allow for coverage of his choir. “I think that was the longest week of my life!” Machekano joked. “To do the number of shows we’ve had and accommodate all the necessary changes each week has been a massive achievement, which wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the entire team.”

Head of Audio Evgenii Shparenkov worked alongside Senior Audio Engineer and Technical Planner Vladimir Voloshin to spec the festival’s audio setup, which comprised an L-Acoustics PA made up of 56 K2 and 19 Kara loudspeakers, 16 K1SB and 28 SB28 subs and eight A15 front

fills, with 16 fully loaded LA-RAK II touring racks offering 12 channels of amplification each and six Luminex GigaCore 16Xt switches.

Shparenkov highlighted the main goal of the audio system, which was to “deliver even coverage all over the venue throughout the audience on multiple levels”, revealing that L-Acoustics SoundVision was extremely useful in designing the system. “We also had to ensure that sound levels were controlled so as not to affect local residents,” he added.

Protec provided a range of audio control options, including an Avid VENUE S6L, DiGiCo Quantum 7 and Quantum 338, while additional consoles were supplied by Clair Global according to artist rider request. Protec also supplied a Shure Axient Digital Wireless Microphone System and PSM 1000 IEMs, along with a ClearCom FreeSpeak II Digital Wireless System.

Inc oming artists’ backline requirements were handled by MEI – a company whose work on the project West described as “amazing”. He added:


“Maria [Kyvernitis, Operations Manager] and her team have been brilliant. They have supplied the artists with everything they need – including every instrument for Andrea Bocelli’s 130-piece orchestra, which is no mean feat.”

Th e video setup was overseen by Head of Video, Yevgeniy Karyagin, who worked closely with Senior Video Engineer and Media Server Operator, Vladimir Zakharov for the duration of the festival. “We have a central LED screen as well as left and right IMAGs, both made out of a total of 156 sq m of Absen P3.9mm LED,” Karyagin said, explaining the video supply. “We also have NovaStar 4K and Barco E2 4K processing, as well as Disguise and Resolume Arena media servers.” A full camera package was supplied and operated by Prime Vision.

Ka ryagin explained how the video team’s main aim was to be as flexible as possible in order to accommodate the requests of incoming artists. “We try to make it as comfortable as possible for any incoming team,” he commented. “We must match the speed of the touring teams, which is challenging but a great opportunity to work with some the best in the business. The project required a huge team effort to pull off.”

Working on his first major project for Protec having joined the company in December 2023, Head of Lighting Warren Hutchison oversaw the lighting elements of the festival.

Th e house rig featured a range of Claypaky fixtures, including 52 Scenius Unicos, 26 A.leda B-Eye K20s, and 16 Mythos, as well as 24 SGM P10s and 39 Q7s, 74 PixelLine 1044s, eight Fos Technologies Scorpios, four Gladiator 3Ks and four Robe RoboSpot BMFL FollowSpots. Main and backup MA Lighting grandMA3 consoles were used for control, with the system running over a Luminex fibre network.

The lighting rig was designed with flexibility in mind, and Hutchison was pleased to report that there hadn’t been any issues in accommodating artist requests. “We’ve had great advances from every incoming production, which we have been able to meet without too many difficulties,” he told TPiMEA as darkness descended on Saadiyat Island just before doors to the venue opened to the throngs of Tom Jones fans. “We try to make it as smooth as possible for the tour, with everything preprogramed and ready for the LD to come in and update their positions ahead of the show. Everyone has been very happy so far.”

AVANTGARDE’s West was pleased with the performance of the entire Protec team: “There can be a reluctance for incoming artists when they see a brand-new venue where there are no previous examples of shows. However, Protec did very well in managing expectations and reassuring the touring teams that they would be walking into a top-level, professional setup.”

Reflecting on the project, West was proud of the achievement. “We started strong with Mariah Carey for the first show and momentum has been building ever since,” he commented. “We sold out pretty much every show. The atmosphere has been amazing, and it’s fantastic to see such a hunger for so many different genres of artist here in Abu Dhabi.”

Su ch was the success of Saadiyat Nights, it seems inevitable that the festival will return. However, with no confirmation at the time of writing, West remained tight-lipped. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens. One thing is for sure though – I’ll definitely need a holiday first!”

Photos: Ashir Ahmed, Protec, AVANTGARDE


Southby Middle East launches in the GCC

As Southby Productions is appointed as a new d&b audiotechnik Sales Partner in the GCC, TPiMEA gets the scoop from Southby’s CEO, Chris Jones, along with d&b Middle East’s VP of Business Development, Brad Maiden…

It’s no secret that d&b audiotechnik has major plans for the Middle East, with the company making a series of strategic moves aiming to increase its presence in the region. In the latest impressive move for the German audio manufacturer, TPiMEA can exclusively reveal that UK-headquartered technical event production company and global d&b Soundscape specialist Southby Productions has been appointed as a new Sales Partner for d&b in the GCC.

Th e deal will see Southby bring its worldleading London Soho d&b Soundscape facility

philosophy to the Saudi Arabian capital in the coming months, offering not only a Soundscape pre-production facility for artists, producers, and engineers, but also an important d&b educational resource, and an optimised d&b Soundscape listening experience. Additionally, Southby Middle East will operate throughout the GCC with three branches across the region.

“We’ve always had a close and long-standing relationship with d&b, and we are delighted to become a Sales Partner across the GCC,” commented Southby Productions CEO, Chris Jones. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the region and

it’s clear that the potential for growth is massive.” The Southby team have a vast back catalogue of project experience to call upon, however Jones was keen to clarify that the company’s Middle East branch will operate as a sales partner only. “We’re not looking to enter the region as a rental house or integrator,” he stated plainly. “We don’t want to go in and compete with the people who we are going to sell to.”

Th e CEO explained that while Southby Middle East won’t be operating in the same way as its UK forebear, the company’s vast experience across a broad range of world-class projects

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will only serve to help the company’s clients in the region. “Our USP is that we understand the challenges that the rental houses and integrators are facing because we do it for ourselves in the UK, Europe and elsewhere in the world,” Jones explained. “We will look after our clients as a company that has deep and proven ties with the d&b team and unparalleled knowledge of the d&b product range and software. We are fully geared up to assist our GCC clients with their pitches, quotes, and designs.”

So uthby Productions’ UK operation has a well-earned reputation as a provider of worldclass equipment, but also as a highly specialised technical event production company delivering high-end audio reinforcement and complex AV installations across a range of top-tier projects.

From deploying d&b Soundscape solutions on rock and pop productions such as Björk’s Cornucopia tour, large-scale concerts in stadiums such as Wembley, installations at some of the world’s most prestigious theatres and museums like the London Coliseum and the V&A, corporate work for the likes of Apple and the UK government, the design and build of the record-breaking Lilidorei d&b Soundscape theme park at Alnwick Castle, touring solutions

“We will look after our clients as a company that has deep and proven ties with the d&b team and unparalleled knowledge of the d&b product range and software. We are fully geared up to assist our GCC clients with their pitches, quotes, and designs.”
Chris Jones, CEO, Southby Productions
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Facing page:
Southby Productions’ Chris Jones with d&b Middle East’s Brad Maiden.
Björk’s Cornucopia Soundscape Tour

for artists such as Chase & Status and Groove Armada to shows with orchestras like the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the company deals at the very top end of the industry, and is proud to do so across a wide range of different genres.

Brad Maiden, d&b Middle East’s Vice President of Business Development, is enthusiastic about what Southby brings to the table. “Southby bring to the Middle East their experience working with the world’s top artists and engineers, especially with d&b Soundscape tours and installations of a complex, creative and technical nature,” he stated. “Their role in the Middle East is as a Sales Partner, but having a company like Southby, which understands an artist’s aspirations, has worked with engineers in pre-production, and has designed some of the world’s most complex d&b Soundscape systems, can only add positively to the mix of our partners in the region.”

An essential component of Southby’s GCC expansion is the launch of the company’s new pre-production facility hosting d&b Soundscape in Riyadh. “We are replicating what we have in

our Soho d&b Soundscape Studio in Central London, which will serve as our demonstration facility in Riyadh for artists, sound designers and engineers as well as an amazing educational facility where we will offer a range of training sessions,” Jones revealed.

“S outhby will play an important role in connecting with artists and end-users, whether they are already d&b users or not,” added d&b’s Maiden. “It is important to d&b that the power of d&b Soundscape as a creative tool is promoted and realised in the region, and Southby Productions has this ability. The increased ability to speak that language in the Middle East is important for us.”

He c ontinued: “At d&b, we believe that experience is everything. The Middle East is at the forefront of technical and creative innovation globally in our industry, and – as technical innovation and creativity embody what we do at d&b – our mission in the region is to be a major contributor to this experience economy with our high-quality sound systems, technical excellence, and customer service as the main

drivers. Of course, we need partners who also believe in that mission in order to help us achieve our goals and our network of regional partners share this philosophy.”

The three new Southby Middle East branches are already fully operational and staffed with a mixture of local talent and support from experienced personnel from the UK, including the company’s Technical Director, Head of Soundscape and Head of Sales.

“I will also be embedding myself in the region,” Jones revealed. “We are extremely excited about bringing all our d&b knowledge and experience to the Gulf,” he concluded.

“The fact that we know implicitly the challenges faced by rental and integrators means that we can genuinely relate and help them realise their ambitions in what is an exciting and dynamic GCC landscape.”

Photos: Southby Middle East

IN PROFILE Middle East 82
Top: Wembley Stadium. Above: Southby’s Soho London Soundscape Studios


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Revamped management team taking Solas to new heights

Following a major rebrand and management shake-up, Solas is embarking on another exciting period of growth.

It’s common knowledge that things move quickly in the Middle East, and one company that has certainly embraced that fact is Solas. The last time TPiMEA caught up with the technical event supplier in October 2023, it had just undergone a rebrand and had big plans for growth in the region. Six months later and the company is already delivering on its promise, with a revamped management team and a refined approach elevating its market position.

One of the biggest developments at Solas is the promotion of Eoin Sheridan to the role of Managing Director. “I’ve had six wonderful years at Solas so far, starting as a project manager and working my way up through the ranks to become MD,” Sheridan revealed. “When I started at Solas, we were a small AV company used to delivering exhibition stands and small events. We’ve now grown significantly into a major player in the Middle East’s corporate events sector.”

According to Sheridan, this leadership transition reflects the company’s commitment to excellence and innovation. “I’m looking forward to an exciting chapter of growth and advancement with new members of the team under a new management structure, along with some fresh ideas from the current team,” he added.

So las has made a series of strategic moves across the management team. “The intention behind the new hires is to help drive the company forward. However, none of this would be possible without the solid foundations laid by the longterm staff who have been with Solas from the beginning,” Sheridan noted.

Among the fresh faces in the building are Commercial Director, John Ryan, Head of Video,

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Eoin Sheridan has been promoted to the role of Managing Director

Paulo Fraga, and Head of Audio, Ivan Yakovlev. “In the past year, Solas has embarked on an incredible journey, marked by milestone events that we’ve successfully delivered,” commented Ryan. “The trust placed in us by our partners has fuelled a profound commitment to growth and team development, inspiring us to reach even greater heights in the future.”

Fe llow new recruit Fraga is also excited for the future. “I am immensely proud to witness the remarkable growth of the company I work for,” he told TPiMEA. “It’s truly inspiring to see our dedication and hard work translate into tangible success, expanding our reach and impact in the industry. Each milestone achieved fills me with a sense of pride and excitement for the future.”

Meanwhile, for Sales Director Rick Wade, who boasts over 30 years of experience, the premium nature of the events and projects the company is delivering is the most pleasing thing. “The growth that Solas has been experiencing is evident in the

kinds of projects we have been able to secure over the past year,” Wade explained. “Both in terms of the size and intricacy of premium projects, we are privileged to be chosen as the preferred AV partner in bringing events for global brands to life.”

‘A premium partner’

Over the past year, Solas has positioned itself as a premium AV partner, working with several global brands in a variety of industries. “The Icons of Porsche event was a really key delivery,” Sheridan recalled, looking back over his highlights of the year. With the event held in Dubai to mark the global launch of the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid, it also served as the largest assembly or Porsche enthusiasts in the Middle East – and Solas was entrusted with delivering an unforgettable experience for attendees.

Th e success of the event hinged on the collaboration between Solas and Porsche’s

in-house technical team. “Every element of the production was meticulously planned and executed to meet the highest standards,” Sheridan stated. “Our partnership was rooted in a mutual understanding of the brand’s ethos and the event’s ambitious vision.”

At the heart of the reveal was an automated split screen, which parted to unveil the Porsche Panamera against the stunning backdrop of Dubai’s skyline. “This element required not just technological solutions but also architectural ingenuity, ensuring the structure’s integrity while maintaining an aesthetic finesse that complemented the sleekness of the Panamera,” Sheridan recalled.

With video content playing a prominent role in the production, Solas leveraged “gamechanging” AV Stumpfl Pixera units. “This ensured that the video content’s playback was of the utmost quality – crisp, clear and compelling,” Sheridan noted. “This was not just about showing

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a car; it was about telling the Porsche Panamera’s story – a narrative of innovation, performance and elegance.” Of c ourse, the event had its challenges – from unpredictable weather to the logistical hurdles of rigging on a grand scale – but the Solas team navigated all the potential pitfalls.

“We had comprehensive backup systems in place for every critical aspect of the event,” Sheridan revealed. “This meticulous approach guaranteed that the event would proceed flawlessly regardless of unforeseen challenges.”

Th e MD described the event as “a milestone – not just for Porsche, but for Solas as well”. He added: “It showcased our capability to handle projects of immense scale and complexity, blending innovative technology with creative

storytelling. As we reflect on this success, we are inspired to push the boundaries further, exploring new horizons in event production and continuing to create experiences that leave a lasting impact.”

Having made great strides over the past year and with major plans still to come, Solas is clearly on a rapid growth trajectory. “Our aim is to leverage on existing client relationships to drive further growth,” Sheridan concluded, adding that the prospect of a Saudi Arabia office is looking likely soon. “We will continue to make strategic investment in key areas that help us grow the business and increase our capability to go the extra mile to ensure we deliver the best service and best equipment wherever we operate.” Photos: Solas

IN PROFILE Middle East 86
Eoin Sheridan, Managing Director; Rick Wade, Sales Director; John Ryan, Commercial Director; Paulo Fraga, Head of Video

Thomas Ovesen, CEO, All Things Live Middle East

Fresh from putting on Ed Sheeran’s record-breaking double-header in January, Thomas Ovesen has his sights set on continual growth…

From the moment it was announced that Ed Sheeran would be returning to Dubai for the first time since 2017 to play back-to-back shows at Sevens Stadium, the entire city was abuzz with the kind of fervour that only occurs when a true global superstar is coming to town. Unsurprisingly, the shows proved to a massive success, with both nights drawing sell-out 30,000 crowds.

Central to bringing Sheeran’s + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) Tour to Dubai was All Things Live, which collaborated with AEG Presents with the support of Dubai Calendar and Coca-Cola Arena to make the shows happen.

“Ed Sheeran was the first open-air show we’ve done since 2018,” said All Things Live’s Thomas Ovesen. “It was great to get back into that heavy up-front investment and all the planning and operational challenges that come with putting on live events in outdoor greenfield sites.”

While large open-air shows have been a rarity in the UAE since the COVID-19 pandemic, Ovesen explained how the Ed Sheeran show had multiple benefits for All Things Live.

“As well as being a massive success in terms of ticket sales, the event also meant that we now have an up-to-date P&L statement for what it costs to put on a show like this on

a greenfield site, which is important and will make our job easier when it comes to future shows.”

With the tour taking place in the round and utilising a very distinctive stage design, the production was a challenging one to deliver locally. However, Ovesen never had any doubt of the ability of the UAE’s suppliers when it came to stepping up to the task. “We’re very fortunate in general with the quality of equipment and the personnel available here in the UAE. The technical suppliers delivered an incredible production that Ed’s team were very impressed with,” he stated. “The only issue we sometimes face is that much of the kit is often taken up with corporate events, so availability can be a challenge. However, for a show like Ed Sheeran, we knew that vendors would be keen to be a part of it.”

Following Sheeran’s visit to the region, the All Things Live team have been kept busy, with US singer-songwriter Khalid playing a rescheduled show at Coca-Cola Arena in March, and a series of small-to-medium-level shows planned, including Finnish symphonic metal band Apocalyptica, who will be bringing their interpretation of Metallica’s music to The Agenda, Dubai Media City, on 13 September. “The smallto-medium-sized shows is a side of the business that I have

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been guilty of neglecting in the past,” Ovesen commented. “We want to get in early and be part of the first shows that emerging artists have in the region and build relationships with them as they grow their fanbase here. It’s also a nice business to have that provides us with some market stats that you don’t get from the big shows. The more of these events we have, the more up-to-date statistics we can get.”

Another area Ovesen is looking to develop is the launch of the company’s own IPs. “We want to develop our own event IPs, and we’re also open to working with international partners on some of their IPs if we think they will be applicable to the region,” he revealed. “The market conditions and artist availability nowadays mean that it makes sense to create an event that has more non-musical assets and attributes. Sole DXB, for example, is a great mix of music and retail. I think there’s a gap in the market for a festival that involves more arts and culture.”

While he acknowledged that launching a new festival IP is far from a quick process, according to Ovesen, it’s well worth the effort if done properly. “When you plan an annual festival, the minute lights are out for your present event, you start working on the next, which gives some consistency for partners, suppliers, and sponsors – all things you can’t offer on a one-off show.”

Looking towards the future, the CEO is firm on his stance that the company will continue to invest and take risks in the pursuit of bringing the biggest and best shows to the region. “The long-term vision is for us to become a promoter and a risk-taker in the Saudi market as well as the UAE, but we want to do it in the right way with the support of all the stakeholders,” he stated.

“I n whatever market you’re operating in, the biggest reward is always against taking risk.” Photos:

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All Things Live
AEG Presents Senior Vice President of International Touring, Simon Jones, alongside All Thing Live Middle East CEO, Thomas Ovesen, and Ed Sheeran


Tom Clements, CEO, Maestra

As Maestra celebrates its 10th anniversary and announces its muchanticipated expansion to Saudi Arabia, TPiMEA catches up with CEO, Tom Clements to hear about the latest goings-on at the multidiscipline build specialist.

What has changed for the company since we last spoke at the end of 2022?

2023 was Maestra’s biggest year to date, with incredible growth across both the UAE and KSA market. We have increased our headcount by 115% in the past 12 months.

We now have over 130 employees and 120,000 sq ft of workshop space allowing us to operate as a major player in the production build space. Our introduction of Showblock to the market in 2022 was extremely well received and we now own over 150 of the modular structures distributed throughout the region.

Why did you decide to expand into KSA?

Our positioning has always been to act as a go-to partner for our agency clients and to remain adaptable, structuring our business to best support their needs. With Saudi Arabia’s ambitious roadmap towards Vision 2030, we found many of our existing clients looking for a reliable fabrication partner in the Kingdom.

For many years, contractors have been producing projects in the UAE and shipping into KSA, but it is no longer a sustainable approach. We strongly believe in the vision of the Kingdom and want to positively contribute towards it. To do this and to best support our clients, we have committed to investing in the country with a fully equipped production facility and a team of in-country scenic build experts.

What’s the make-up of the KSA operation?

Our new workshop was custom built, and we worked alongside a team of contractors to transform the space into a state-of-the-art production facility. In setting up our new operation, we have been committed to transferring skills and knowledge at every level with many of our new team transferring from Dubai. The idea is to ensure a seamless continuity of service between KSA and the UAE.

Jon Davis is heading up our operation and is a veteran of the KSA market, having worked on projects such as the construction of Maraya in Al Ula, the Richard Mille Al Desert Polo Tournament and The Winter at Tantora Festival in Al Ula to name but a few.

Ou r operations are led by Idelette Anine Coetzee, an expert in all things fabrication with 19 years of industry experience. We are also very excited to welcome a team of Saudi nationals to Maestra in a variety of roles who are committed to the continued growth of the events industry within the Kingdom.

Have you found many differences between the KSA and UAE markets?

The leadership of both the UAE and KSA share an incredible vision for growth that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The UAE has a more established event industry ecosystem with a well-established supplier base. KSA is

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Opposite: Maestra’s 10-year anniversary party at Al Serkal Avenue. Above: Maestra team outside its UAE base; Images from the new KSA workshop

following at turbo-speed, and we are seeing more and more strong partners setting up in the Kingdom. Project deadlines in Saudi Arabia can be even more challenging than in Dubai, but that is the nature of our industry, and we are committed to structuring our business to support those challenges with as much reactivity and flexibility as possible.

How do you deal with short lead times?

Lead times are constantly reducing all the while expectations are increasing. We are focussing on building a business that really supports the needs of our agency clients to deliver under those challenging conditions. We have been very specific about the type of machinery that we have invested to ensure we can produce on the tightest of deadlines.

Mo dular construction is at the forefront of everyone’s minds because it is sustainable, cost-effective and quick to deploy. Showblock has been a great success in the UAE, and we are now seeing a similar trend in KSA. We are working closely with the rest of Showblock Group to deliver more innovations that will allow the construction of larger temporary structures in the future.

How did you mark your 10-year anniversary?

It’s incredible to look back on the journey we have been on over the past 10 years. We’ve worked on some incredible projects and had the privilege of working with some amazing clients and suppliers. We were lucky to be able to thank many of those who have been an integral part of our growth at our 10-Year anniversary party held in Al Serkal earlier this year.

What have been some of your personal highlights over the past decade?

We’ve been extremely privileged to be part of thousands of exciting projects over the years. In our first month of business, we delivered a Cruise Fashion Show for Chanel and shortly after were honoured as the Best Supplier at the Middle East Event Show. These were all great achievements for such a young company.

Since then, our capabilities in fabrication have expanded exponentially and it is incredible to have contributed to such iconic projects as COP28 in Dubai and The Winter at Tantora Festival in Al Ula. We are very proud to have introduced the first architectural modular event structures to the region in 2022 with Showblock and are extremely excited by the future of our new operation in KSA.

What are the areas of the business with the largest potential for growth?

We are excited about our potential within the KSA market. We spent six months preparing our factory and recruiting the right team. We feel that we can fill a gap in the market for a reliable expert build partner with an authentic workshop and on-the-ground team to back it up. With the support of our well-established UAE structure, we are well positioned to deliver projects of any scale across the Middle East.

What are your aims for the future?

In the short term, we are very much focussed on our successful launch in KSA. The key is to ensure we continue to deliver at an extremely high level in The Kingdom for our clients. We are continuing to grow our hire stock of modular structures and expect to have another 150 blocks positioned in KSA by the end of the year. For the long term, the vision is to remain the adaptable, agile company that we always have been, with a team of dedicated and passionate experts focussed on acting as a real support partner for agencies delivering in the region.

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Photos: Maestra Jon Davis, Country Manager – KSA; Idelette Anine Coetzee, Operations Manager – KSA; Maestra team on site in Saudi Arabia

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Aggreko: investing in the green future of events

Having recently joined the company as Event Sector Leader, Adam Rhodes explains how Aggreko is making great strides in the field of sustainability.

What led you to joining Aggreko, and what does your new role entail?

Having spent just over five years at PRG, in the Dubai and then Riyadh office, it was a difficult decision to leave Bruce Mac Lean and the team there who I hold in very high regard, and I know they’ll continue to do great things.

However, Aggreko was looking for an Event Sector Leader, following the transition of Martin Nichol to General Manager of the KSA business. He and his team have done an incredible job with Aggreko’s event sector in the Middle East over the past decade, and after a couple of conversations with Martin, Adam Read, Owen Coll and the Aggreko leadership, I knew it was the right move for me.

My new role is to manage the sales and commercial teams in the GCC, linking into the Aggreko Events Services global team and working alongside my counterpart John Devine, who manages our Event operations.

Su stainability is a huge part of Aggreko’s offering now and it’s my responsibility to ensure our teams are well equipped with the resources to be able to work with our

clients on their ESG goals, developing project plans and provide a consultative solution that reduces emissions, improves efficiencies, and ultimately lowers costs.

How is Aggreko’s business split across the region?

We’ve had a very busy start to the year in Qatar, across the Asian Football Cup and FINA World Aquatics Championships and our base events business there continues to do well. Obviously the 2022 World Cup was a very busy time for the Qatar events market but it’s good to see significant projects still happening there and we have been able to deliver them from our local depot that remained well resourced, while others have moved resources out of the region.

Th e Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is certainly still a key market for us with several of our major clients and projects across the year such as Sound Storm, Formula 1, Formula E and this year the World Defense Show. Having focused purely on the KSA market in my recent time at PRG, it has been great to work with a lot of the same clients and events, continuing some of the relationships built. There’s no doubt that KSA is one of the most dynamic and exciting countries in the events industry worldwide.

Th e UAE is where our Middle East HQ is located will always be an important market for us. We have many longterm client relationships that we’re very proud of and have also identified new targets that we’re focusing on for 2024 and beyond. Bahrain, India, Oman, Kuwait and Azerbaijan have all contributed so far this year as well, so I’m really enjoying experiencing new territories.

How is Aggreko catering to the specific sustainability needs of the GCC market?

We are investing heavily in new technology with a heavy focus on sustainability. Aggreko recognised several years ago that the future is clean energy solutions and has been investing for quite some time now into solutions such as stage V emissionized power generation, battery storage and solar PV systems. Not just that, but the management decided a couple of years ago, at quite some cost, to adapt and enable every single generator in the Aggreko fleet to run off biofuel and give our customers the option

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of an instant solution to significantly reducing the carbon footprint of their event.

Yo u could argue that Middle East has been a slower adopter compared to Europe, perhaps due to the significantly lower price of diesel but no doubt it is gaining pace, and we will be well placed to cope with the demand.

What is Aggreko doing to contribute to more sustainable power solutions?

The Energy Transition is front and centre of everything at Aggreko. As a global energy services provider, there is an absolute commitment to developing and promoting cleaner energy solutions that reduce carbon emissions.

Aggreko is not investing in big heavy diesel generators anymore, instead investing $60m alone in the Middle East in 2023 and 2024 into new tier four and stage V generators with reduced emissions and refurbishment of existing fleet with the same intention.

We a lways talk about working with our clients on a journey to increase their sustainability initiatives when it comes to power and HVAC; it is a consultative approach from our side to ensure that we are right sizing their generators, not consuming more diesel than is truly needed, providing post-show reports on consumption and fuel burn, so that the next event we can make efficiency

decisions together backed by data. That should result in reduced bottom-line costs as well.

Fo r our customers that are working with us on multiyear events, we have a commitment to provide year-onyear reductions in carbon footprint and implement more solar, battery, load sharing and biofuel elements into our project delivery.

Su stainability and our commitment to the energy transition to providing our clients a cleaner energy solution is the growth area for the company. It is clearly the future for Aggreko and with our investment, experience so far and training programmes, I believe we’re leading from the front.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a company?

We’re all in the events industry because we enjoy facing challenges. We don’t know what is around the corner and planning for next month is sometimes even difficult, but it’s something we all relish and keeps us on our toes.

Aggreko’s challenge is to continue the momentum with energising change and significantly contributing to the ESG goals of our clients– and that requires continued and significant investment. But it’s something that Aggreko’s board is laser focused on and it is the future.

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Photos: Aggreko

TPiMEA Awards 2023 Green Award Winner: MTD

After taking home the inaugural Green Award at the TPiMEA Awards 2023, MTD is going from strength to strength in the region. Here, Jesse van den Boomen, Account Manager Middle East, explains what the company has been working on over the past year.

How has the past year been for you since you won the TPiMEA Green Award?

It was such an honour to win the TPiMEA Green Award for our work on MDLBEAST Soundstorm, because we are fully committed to sustainability and aim to bring that spirit to our customers, too. The past year has been challenging but successful for us, and we are happy to see that our service quality led to many opportunities in the Middle East.

Both markets and sustainability ambitions are growing steadily, which means the opportunities will undoubtedly grow further, too. We are also expanding as a company – especially in the Middle East; we want to be close to the customer as possible, with our local workforce driving a global organisation.

How has your technology developed over the past year?

With the introduction of MTD’s Silver Label Units, we managed to introduce a compact and mobile turnkey solution for our valued customers, reducing overall CO2 emissions and site construction time. Our Silver Label Unit provides the latest separation and filtration technologies available in the market. It guarantees accessibility to pure and clean water wherever needed, whether on-shore or offshore. Our Silver Label Units are scaleable in design and can meet any required flow capacity.

Why was now the right time to launch in Dubai?

MTD has been expanding rapidly and internationally over the past year, and due to the growing demand in the Middle East we had enough justification to establish an additional entity after our existing ones in Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Our UAE entity will offer our valued customers our Flex and Pure Water portfolio solutions respectively. Our Flex portfolio offers mid- and long-term water purification solutions, whereas our Pure Water portfolio offers short-

term solutions. It pleases us to see a growing need and demand for our entire portfolio in both the government sector as well as the private sector. MTD is proud to see numerous returning customers, which is a result of our consistent commitment to delivering top-tier services. We are confident that we will continue to expand our business network with our valued partners in the near future.

How important is the KSA market for MTD?

The strategically planned diversification strategy by the visionary leaders of the Kingdom lead to exponential local business opportunities for MTD, and we remain committed to continue delivering the best-in-class services to our customers in The Kingdom. Whether it is related to oil and gas, petrochemical, entertainment, exhibitions, mining, construction, or industry, MTD has a fit-for-purpose solution to offer for all projects.

What challenges do you and the team face operating in the Middle East?

The Middle East is a fast-paced region with a different business culture compared to the West and Far East. It is therefore of upmost importance for international companies like MTD to understand and respect the local business customs. MTD’s skilled and competent team, consisting of a diversified pool of nationalities, forms our core strength to overcome any local challenges we may come across.

What are your aims for the future?

Our aim is to remain the market leader in our industry, while contributing to the society we operate in, whether it is by fully using the local supply chain or helping with the development and empowerment of the local workforce.

Photos: MTD

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Awards Green
for its work on MDLBEAST Soundstorm
MTD took home to 2023 TPiMEA

Can AI revolutionise the events industry?

Artificial intelligence is already a regular part of many people’s workflow in the events industry, but its uses could extend far beyond its current application.

3 Monkeys’ Rudi Buchner shares his thoughts on the subject…

As an event professional, you are always on your toes, adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the industry. You stay updated on the newest fads, tools, and demands, while creating amazing and effective events. You might have already used some AI in your work, but did you know that AI can assist you in every stage of an event, from brainstorming to reviewing?

One of the first steps in creating an event is to come up with an idea, a concept, and a theme. This can be a daunting task, especially if you deal with a large, diverse market and multiple stakeholders. AI can help generate new and innovative ideas, based on data analysis, trend forecasting, and customer feedback. It can support you with the design and editorial of the event, using natural language generation and computer vision, saving time and money, while ensuring a consistent and appealing identity for your event. It can also assist you with the research and sourcing of the event, such as finding the best venues, speakers, talent, sponsors, exhibitors, vendors, and partners. Using natural language processing and recommendation systems, you find the most suitable and reliable options, while considering your budget, preferences, and goals.

Once you have an idea and a design, you plan and implement it in the most efficient and effective way possible. This involves a lot of logistics, operations, and coordination, which can be stressful and time-consuming. AI can optimise the logistics, operations, and budget, using machine learning. It helps you to allocate resources, schedule activities, and manage risks, while minimising costs and maximising returns.

It c an improve your efforts when it comes to health and safety, sustainability, and business continuity management, using sensors, cameras, and predictive analytics to monitor and control the environmental and social impact of your event, while ensuring compliance and security.

The final and most crucial stage of an event is the execution and auditing. The show must run smoothly and effectively, while outcomes and impact are measured and evaluated. AI can support you with the communication, registration, check-in, guidance, matchmaking, and personal planning of the attendees, using chatbots, facial recognition, and personalisation techniques. You can create a seamless and customised experience for your attendees, while collecting valuable data and insights. It can also assist

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with the engagement, interaction, and feedback, using gamification and sentiment analysis. It can boost inclusion and accessibility, using speech recognition, text-to-speech, and translation tools, resulting in a more diverse and inclusive event. Everyone can understand and participate, regardless of their language, accent, or disability.

What if we had AI to back the operation of eventspecific hardware and processes, such as tech operations, show calling and stage-managing? It would enable event professionals to run more complex and sophisticated shows, with less human error, faster reaction, and more flexibility. AI can facilitate the evaluation, and auditing of the event, using data visualisation, reporting, and anomaly detection. You can analyse and present the data and insights collected from the event, while identifying and resolving any issues or discrepancies.

AI c an offer a lot of advantages, but it also comes with challenges and limitations, such as the fragmentation and complexity of the AI landscape, which makes it difficult and costly for event professionals to find the right AI tools for their needs. There are hundreds of AI tools on the market, each with its own features, functions, and prices. Not all are suitable for the specific needs of the events industry and there is no comprehensive all-in-one solution. Using multiple AI tools means dealing with different interfaces, formats, and systems, while integrating and synchronising the data and insights from various sources.

Another challenge is the ethical and social implications of AI. How can event professionals ensure the privacy and

security of the data collected and processed by AI tools? How can event professionals avoid bias and discrimination in the AI algorithms and recommendations?

These challenges create opportunities and possibilities for the events industry, especially for the development and innovation of industry-specific AI tools. Such tools would be able to integrate and automate the various AI functions and features needed throughout the lifecycle of an event, from ideation to auditing. They would also be able to learn and adapt to industry sectors, client preferences, event types, and provide customised and personalised solutions and suggestions. This would not only make the event process more efficient and effective, but also more creative and engaging, and ultimately more successful.

AI is not a threat or a replacement for the human element in the events industry, but a complement and a catalyst. AI can help you achieve higher levels of efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction, while preserving and enhancing the human empathy and touch that make events memorable and meaningful. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but a flexible and adaptable technology that can be tailored to the specific needs of each event.

AI is not a distant future, but a present reality that can revolutionise the events industry for the better. However, AI also comes with challenges and limitations, which require the development and innovation of an industry-specific AI tool that can address the needs of event professionals.

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Photo: 3 Monkeys

AED Audio Flex Series

AED Group CEO Glenn Roggeman gives TPiMEA chapter and verse on the company’s flexible audio solution.

What is the ethos behind the Flex Series?

The system has been meticulously crafted to encompass the entire spectrum of speaker cabinets a rental production company might require in its inventory. Whether catering to an audience from 10 to 10,000 people, the system is versatile enough to meet these diverse demands. From ground stack speakers to hanging speakers, and multi-diversion speakers, everything is integrated into one component, one model – making it arguably the most functionally flexible speaker in the audio industry.

This innovation replaces the need for 10 to 12 different types of speaker cabinets with just one model. Such consolidation not only reduces the variety of speakers to invest in but also significantly cuts down on weight and logistics. The versatility extends to signal input as well.

The system accommodates anything from a simple microphone input to a multi-channel signal. This includes different setups like a DJ and a mixing desk from a PA with two separate inputs, or even a Dante input with a fourchannel matrix for Dante in and out in every unit. The inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity is an added convenience, especially for simpler

setups like fashion stores where individual EQ, delay settings, and simple sound connectivity or a microphone in each box are essential.

This system can seamlessly adapt from basic installations to highly complex configurations in venues such as the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai. The secret to its adaptability lies in understanding its 23 different setups, ensuring top-notch quality performance once you are familiar with the basics of the speakers.

In e ssence, the ethos of AED Audio revolves around developing the world’s most flexible speaker, combining the functionalities of 12 different types of speakers into one allencompassing cabinet.

What are the main benefits of the Flex Series for end users?

The primary advantage lies in the versatility it offers. Consider a scenario where you’re working in a hotel accommodating 500 people. Initially, you’re informed that the space is 50m deep and 10m wide. However, later the staging arrangement changes, flipping the dimensions to 10m deep and 50m wide. In such situations, having a speaker system that can adapt on the fly is invaluable.

With our system, you have the flexibility to accommodate any setup, even at the last minute. This means you only need one type of speaker that can seamlessly fit into any configuration.

Ou r speakers also boast a unique dispersion feature. They offer 100° of coverage from left to right, with a soft edge extending to 160°. This ensures optimal sound distribution. Another key advantage is the integration of the amplifier within each speaker. This eliminates the need for complex setup procedures or worrying about compatibility. Everything you need is neatly packed inside the box, making it a true plug-and-play solution.

Our system is designed to accommodate simple and complex setups. For simple use, there’s a user-friendly display located on the back of the speaker. Meanwhile, for largescale events like arena shows you have AES67 with a software that allows for comprehensive control. This includes managing groups and master groups, as well as fine-tuning various parameters such as EQ’ing, delaying, levelling, phasing, and even adjusting the cardioid settings for subwoofers or lows. This advanced functionality is tailored for expert users utilising the software’s capabilities.

Talk us through the research and development phases of the Flex Series… The inspiration for FLEX6 came when we opened our AED office in the UK. During our visits to leading UK audio companies such as Entec, Solotech, Britannia Row Productions, and Delta, we noticed a common trend; each had a diverse inventory of over 30 different speaker models. This sparked the concept of creating a versatile product that could replace a wide range of speakers. Our research and development journey for FLEX6 began in 2006. At the time, the components needed to build such a loudspeaker were difficult to obtain. Over the course of 12 years, our R&D focused on topics ranging from aerodynamics to developing ultra-lightweight hardware.

Ou r goal was to create the lightest possible speaker box to offset the weight increase caused by heavy hardware. As a result, we developed an innovative hardware system that significantly reduces installation time. In terms of rigging, our design diverges from traditional, heavy-duty models, favouring speed and ease of installation. Although more delicate, our

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lightweight rigging system enhances flexibility and manageability, making it simpler to handle an 18kg box compared to those weighing 60kg or 100kg.

Our tour dolly design allows for quick vertical setup of up to eight precabled boxes with a fly bumper on top. However, the design of the lightweight rigging only allows it to be used vertically. It is therefore forbidden to install the boxes piecemeal.

The system nevertheless allows for quick configuration in a very short time, such as stacking eight boxes on top of each other or combining a bass, a 15-inch low speaker and three top units. This rig is noticeably lighter and faster, although slightly more precise than conventional, heavier rigs.

Th e amplification system too underwent a revolutionary design process, incorporating passive cooling to eliminate the need for maintenance. The entire processing platform has been meticulously designed over 12 years, improving aerodynamic features such as the base reflex and innovative aerodynamic tube, reducing turbulence even in smaller enclosures while delivering impressive low-end sound.

It took us two years to develop a system that technicians used to working with flexible, highquality PA systems could quickly get used to when given the proper settings and starting EQ.

Tell us about the new sand-coloured offering… We’ve innovatively designed a sand gold-coloured speaker, specifically tailored for the Middle Eastern market, and have included it in our rental inventory. This decision was inspired by the prevalent use

of light green, sand, and light grey hues in hotel decorations in the region.

Traditional white, black, or dark brown speakers often clashed with these colour schemes, so our sand gold speaker offers a harmonious alternative. This unique colour not only meets the specific aesthetic needs of the Middle East but also underscores our commitment to providing high-quality, luxurious audio solutions. Currently, we have a stock of 100 units, each crafted to meet the demands for distinctive, highprofile audio experiences.

How important is the Middle East market for AED Audio?

In 2022, we initiated our system in Belgium and the Netherlands. Our international market expansion is set for 2024. Currently, we have distributors in nine countries. The Middle East is pivotal for us –especially for gaining significant exposure for our AED Audio brand. We currently have 1,000 AED Audio speakers and 400 stands in the Middle East, ready to meet the diverse needs of production companies. These include elegantly designed base plates and tubes for speaker setup. AED RENT in the Middle East region provides these to support our rental customers.

The Middle East market is of great importance to us. We aim to establish an ultra-high-resolution image there, synonymous with high-end audio. This is the rationale behind placing 1,000 speakers in the region, reinforcing our commitment to delivering top-notch audio experiences.

Photos: AED

AED’s new sand-coloured speakers have been tailored specifically for the Middle East and are in the company’s rental inventory

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Starway WET Range

The French lighting manufacturer’s R&D Assistant, Hugo Tinot, explains the benefits of the company’s new range of IP-rated fixtures.

Talk us through the WET range…

The WET (Weather Exterior Technology) range is the latest innovation from Starway in terms of IP65 rating products. It’s the transition for outdoor usage of all our existing indoor moving heads range.

Th e first product in the range is the BARACCA WET – an innovative beam searchlight powered by the new 260W white Laser LED technology. That will be followed by the MODENA WET and DAYTONA WET – the outdoor version of our existing beam/wash MODENA and DAYTONA, with an upgrade of the ORSAM RGBW LEDs from 40W to 60W to better suit outdoor projects.

Th e outdoor version of our latest spot fixture, ENZO, will also come in WET mode, with an upgrade of a more powerful LED from 550W to 600W and an extra medium progressive frost in addition to the medium existing one, and always with a full curtain framing blades system.

Finally, the BARACCA 360 will also be available in WET mode. This beam comes with a 260W white laser LED and an infinite pan/tilt that can create complex and original effects at speed using CK EFFECT technology.

What industry requirements does the WET range address?

The WET range will help every rental company that wants to simplify the maintenance of products, because IP65 also means preventing dust infiltration. This also includes some fixed installations for which maintenance

is not always easily accessible. Because the entire WET range is manufactured in die cast aluminium, this ensures weather resistance in any environment.

What kind of research and development processes resulted in the range?

Head of R&D, Bernard Cheramy and I have worked extensively to find solutions for the best cooling and power management to avoid derating, which constitutes the main challenge in this development. We are also fine-tuning all the functionalities to be able to use all the WET range in the same way that we utilise the indoor range.

Where are we likle to see these fixtures in action in the coming months?

The BARACCA WET is already being used in France on many festivals as well as in Turkmenistan. The rest of the range is due to come to market later this year.

Why are these fixtures ideal for use in the Middle East?

They are ideal in any environment. The range’s use of die cast aluminium means that they can be deployed in coastal locations where we know corrosion is a challenge, while the IP65 protection that guards from rain also prevents the fixtures from dust infiltration, meaning they can comfortably be deployed in sandy desert environments, too.

Photos: Starway
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Kvant Lasers Architect W400B

Kvant Lasers Middle East & Asia Sales Director, Peter Prokopčák discusses the company’s latest super-bright skybeam.

What are the most exciting features of the Architect W400B?

The Architect W400B is an RGB laser sky beam with a full power of 400W, designed to highlight important locations like cultural heritage places, event locations, and landmarks. This laser’s extreme luminosity makes it extremely bright and visible from 20km and more, and its huge power requires a water-cooling system.

Th e optional DMX-controlled heavy-duty platform for this laser offers a 360° pan and 60° tilt, which allows the beam to be moved and scanned across the sky.

How was the fixture developed?

The R&D process involved a collaborative effort between various entities to create a cutting-edge lighting system. The design and development of the Architect W400B was the result of cooperation between Kvant Lasers R&D team, and the KSP team, and requests from clients in the architectural market. This collaboration brought together expertise in design, laser technology, and scientific research to create a product that offers attractive design, robust construction, and astonishing visual effects for both outdoor and indoor installations and venues.

Th e product was introduced as a highpowered static-beam laser system designed specifically for outdoor architectural and landmark illumination. The collaboration aimed to harness the latest advancements in laser technology to deliver an innovative and powerful lighting solution suitable for a wide range of applications.

The combination of advanced laser technology, design expertise, and scientific input underscores the comprehensive approach taken in the R&D process to bring the laser to fruition.

Th e second generation is built based on the newest high-power laser diode technology; its IP65 rating and durability mean it can survive in the harshest environmental conditions.

Why is the Middle East a good target market for this laser?

The Middle East is a place where you want to see and be seen. The region is growing, and the entertainment market is flourishing, with lots of events, shows, and projects – many of which involve tall buildings with unique designs. All this needs something that will help draw people to these specific locations.

Where has the fixture been used so far? We used its 300W younger brother for a project in Abha, Saudi Arabia, as well as for the NYE 2024 celebration at Emaar’s Kula Belgrade building in Serbia.

We also presented the new 400W version at IlDA as well as Prolight + Sound, and we used it for the first time in Doha, Qatar, for

the Web Summit with our partner, Creative Communication Group.

When can customers get this laser?

We completely understand that this is not a laser for everybody to have in their warehouse. For that reason, we are building four pieces to be used for rental, so we can support as many clients as possible. We already have some reservations for New Year’s Eve celebrations, which is where this laser belongs. The other option is to order and own this beauty –especially for the permanent installation. The building process for this masterpiece is individual, but if you order a Rolls-Royce, there’s bound to be a bit of a wait time.

Photo: Kvant Lasers
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STARWAY.EU | STAND 4 A20 IP65 Weather External Technology

DirectOut PRODIGY Series

DirectOut’s Chief Solutions Officer, Luca Giaroli explains the benefits of the company’s flagship product.

What industry need does the PRODIGY Series address?

The PRODIGY Series is a complete audio solution that meets a variety of needs. It addresses the need for flexible, high-quality audio processing in various industries such as live sound, broadcast, installation, and recording. With PRODIGY, we provide a customisable solution that can adapt to the specific requirements of each application, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency. In all applications, resilience and redundancy are key to protect against hardware, software, and human error.

For example, EARS is DirectOut’s smart

redundancy input switching function. When the MAIN signal source fails, EARS automatically switches to the BACKUP signal. By monitoring trigger signals contained in each audio stream, a logic determines when switchover is necessary.

How was the PRODIGY Series developed?

The development process (behind the PRODIGY Series) involved a thorough understanding of the needs of the audio industry and the creation of a solution that meets these needs while providing the flexibility to adapt to future changes. This required extensive research and development,

testing, and refinement to ensure the highest quality product.

The PRODIGY.MC (Modular Audio Converter) marks the beginning of DirectOut’s PRODIGY Series and builds on the success of the ANDIAMO series. This innovative solution combines the proven technologies of ANDIAMO with advanced audio networking capabilities such as Dante, Ravenna and SoundGrid in a fully modular way. The modularity of the PRODIGY.MC offers flexibility and versatility allowing different technologies to all be combined into a single device.

With the introduction of the PRODIGY. MP, DirectOut has added DSP capabilities to the Prodigy range. This device is designed to manage complex audio streams, increase system redundancy and act as a central hub for managing complex audio systems. The addition of DSP capabilities took DirectOut into a whole new realm, expanding its ability to serve not only broadcasters, but also the live and fixed installation markets.

The series was completed with the PRODIGY.MX, the successor to the legendary M.1K2 router, which addresses the high channel routing needs of the market. The integration of bi-directional sample rate conversion capabilities sets new standards in audio technology and provides a unique solution for demanding applications.

With the latest additions, such as the Advance and Unlimited versions unveiled at recent trade shows including NAMM and ISE, more power and DSP capabilities can be applied to the PRODIGY.MX, for example 64x64

GEAR HEADS Middle East 106

Matrix, Summing Busses, Flex Channels, and Input Managers.

How is PRODIGY being used out on the road?

In terms of live sound, for example, Tony Smith, Head of Audio, FOH-tech and Sound Designer for Coldplay, and Alex Hadjigeorgiou, digital audio specialist at Hadji Audio, were looking at an early stage for the next advancement in system EQ, distribution and control to make the production at the forefront of currently available technology available in the industry.

In the end it was the whole package that made DirectOut become an essential part of their audio system.

Da n Green, Coldplay’s FOH Engineer, and Tony had outgrown their current system EQ and I/O AD gear and looked for an improvement. PRODIGY.MP and PRODIGY.MC were more than up to the task. PRODIGY.MP as system EQ provides the functionality and more in tonality/EQ curves as well as usability. PRODIGY.MC came on as an I/O AD converter to get the analogue gear onto a MADI stream and on the DiGiCo Optocore loop.

For broadcast, as part of a recent expansion to the large-format location recording and outside broadcast vehicle, MixBus, the team decided to invest in the DirectOut Prodigy.MX for MADI and AoIP routing and management.

BA FTA Award winning sound supervisor, Conrad Fletcher, explained that in their world, they require an amazing amount of redundancy, and with often hundreds of millions of people watching a live televised

event, there is no room for failure of any sort. The DirectOut Prodigy.MX is a stateof-the-art modular routing matrix designed for professional live sound and broadcast applications. Its six modular I/O slots allow users to choose from a variety of digital audio connections to suit the demands of a project, with powerful routing capabilities controlled via the globcon control software.

Can you talk about your recent new partnerships in the Middle East and India? Although they are not so far from each other, the presence of DirectOut has evolved quite differently within the two territories. The Middle East is not a ‘new land’ for DirectOut and there’s already an active community of users there, but we needed a skilled local partner to support our existing customers and expand the business to reach its potential in the region. With 7Hertz, we finally found who we were looking for.

By c ontrast, India is quite a new market for us. We are convinced that the appointment of two well-prepared new distributors will help us in opening the market to the technologies we support. With Advanced Telemedia, we found a reputable partner focusing on the broadcast and studio markets, while Sonic Evolution has live sound as its strong background. This combination allows us to best serve all the different customers who are interested in our audio solutions and to cover the entire range of potential applications.

Photos: DirectOut

DirectOut PRODIGY Series is available in the UAE from 7Hertz, and in India through Advanced Telemedia as well as Sonic Evolution

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80six expands into the Middle East

The UK-based video specialist launches a new strategic operation in the Middle East servicing the region.

Award-winning independent video company 80six has expanded into the Middle East, bringing its specialist video technology solutions to live music shows, sporting events, multi-layered brand experiences, conferences and special projects throughout the Gulf.

80 six has already delivered a major conference for a Fortune 500 company in December 2023 in Saudi Arabia whilst also supporting Euro tours and concerts for renowned acts like Rod Stewart, Fall Out Boy, Madison Beer, and Noel Gallagher. Ensuring hands-on involvement, 80six co-founders, Jack James and Dan Hamill, will personally oversee the regional operational expansion and the delivery of significant projects on the ground.

“The scale of change in the region is unparalleled, driven by accelerated digital

transformation and social reforms,” commented Commercial Director, Hamill. “Our ambition to lead visual innovation in production by adopting advanced video solutions and sustainable production techniques resonates with the region’s push for modern entertainment and bold business events. There’s a feeling that anything is possible and that fits with our sense of ambition and perspective. We’re looking forward to delivering these globally recognised projects.”

The company has committed an impressive array of products to the region, including ROE Visual LED screen technology, Brompton Technology image processors, Disguise media servers, Lightware and Barco products. It has also further invested in broadcast camera systems, new 4K lenses, video switching, and distribution systems. To navigate the local

commercial landscape effectively, 80six operates from a facility with its partner 3DB, an established 360 service event production company in the region. This operational partnership allows 80six to connect its high-grade video technology with the increasing number of globally-acclaimed events in the region.

“A c onsiderable portion of our client base is active in the UAE and KSA. Our strategic operation in the Middle East facilitates quicker dispatches to places like Riyadh, Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” concluded Delivery Director, James elaborating on the operational advantages. “80six’s clients can now lean on us to deliver visual excellence in the region at the high standards they know us for in the UK.”

Photos: 80six, Robin Wain / Single Point Focus

Left: Fall Out Boy Tour. Above: The 80six co-founders: Commercial Director, Dan Hamill, and Delivery Director, Jack James

Provision AVL becomes d&b Sales Partner

The company will provide d&b audiotechnik solutions throughout the GCC, with a state-of-the-art experience centre launching in Riyadh.

Provision AVL has recently landed a deal which will see the company provide d&b audiotechnik solutions for the GCC. This strategic move is aimed at catering to the growing demand in the Saudi Arabian market.

“Saudi represents such an important market for everyone in the industry due to its rapid growth and development across all the sectors and verticals,” commented Kevin Boujikan, Founder and General Manager of Provision AVL, who revealed the company’s plans to establish a dedicated experience centre in Riyadh – where customers can experience the brand’s portfolio of solutions including its Soundscape immersive audio solution for the live entertainment market. “The country’s major investment in infrastructure and entertainment makes it the ideal market for premium audio systems like d&b.”

Brad Maiden, VP of Business Development for d&b Middle East, expressed the company’s commitment to the region’s growth and its search for partners aligned with d&b’s philosophy. “2023 was an amazing year for d&b in the region; we are now fully embedded, and we want to build on that momentum,” he said, emphasising the manufacturer’s dedication to providing innovative sound solutions and immersive audio technology. “When we were looking for a new sales partner, it was incredibly important first and foremost that they understand the philosophy of d&b as a company, our combined sense of unity and togetherness –at d&b, we call this ‘Wir-Gefühl’.”

Boujikan believes that d&b will become the preferred brand for premium venues, theatres, museums, and stadiums in the region,

particularly with its advanced line array systems and the acclaimed cardioid SL Series. “Immersive sound is the future of the audio industry, and we are confident that d&b Soundscape will do well, being at the forefront of immersive technology,” he said. “Our goal is to proactively spread the d&b ethos in every possible space and medium, so fans and clients can get the best possible audio experience out there.”

Maiden noted that Saudi Arabia is undergoing a “significant cultural shift”, raising expectations for entertainment and leisure facilities. He elaborated: “We believe that every venue – large or small – deserves the very best quality sound, and we want to continue our journey of being the premium brand of choice for so many great artists and venues in our journey in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East region.”

Provision AVL and the German manufacturer are aligned in their vision to make d&b the leading brand for audio solutions in the Middle East, ensuring that fans and clients have access to the best possible audio experiences across various entertainment venues.

“We want to see d&b in every single venue in the region, to have fans experience the best possible sound at every concert, and to fully embrace the incredible enthusiasm that this region has for entertainment, learning and innovation,” Maiden concluded.

Photo: Provision AVL


Steve Dawkes, formerly of Light & Sound Design, joins DLC as part of a wider restructure at the company.

Industry veteran Steve Dawkes has joined DLC Events as Business Consultant, with a remit of guiding the production and operations side of the organisation as well as retaining a tight control of the company’s finances.

“Steve is a very calm asset to DLC Events, bringing a wealth of experience with logistics, planning and production, as well as keeping control of job costings and company assets,” stated DLC’s Founder and Managing Director, Lorraine Ludman.

Having made his name in the industry in the 1970s and ’80s working with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Elton John, AC/DC and Prince among countless others, the former Light & Sound Design (LSD) Managing Director first met Ludman during her time at Laserpoint in the 1980s, when LSD provided lighting and sound for Oman National Day. “I remained in touch with Lorraine and most recently she asked if I would

Industry legend comes out of retirement to join DLC Events Leadership changes at NMK

be interested in helping to restructure DLC,” Dawkes explained.

Af ter conducting an in-depth review of the business, Dawkes agreed to join the company as Business Consultant. “My role is to run the business, both financially and administratively, implementing systems, organising the warehouse, and liaising with staff – particularly on finances and operations,” he described.

With the aim of streamlining the business without affecting the production output, Dawkes will use his expertise in logistics, planning and production to make the company more focused in its direction, while broadening its horizon. “Since I have been involved, the business has grown and become more profitable, experiencing a continual growth in the marketplace,” he commented.

Now settled into the routine of working one or two weeks per month onsite in Dubai and the rest

remotely from the UK or the Algarve, Portugal, Dawkes described the industry in the Middle East as “alive and thriving”. He added: “It has become a lot more competitive than it was even 10 years ago, but there are still many opportunities to expand the business both in scale and different geographical areas. DLC is a well-respected company within the UAE and worldwide, having one of the largest hire stocks of simultaneous translations, conference microphones, digital name signs and PTZ cameras.”

Lud man concluded: “With Steve’s appointment, DLC intends to expand to consolidate relationships with existing clients and offer its services for the larger more prestigious events worldwide. We will also expand and focus on our core business of conferencing and hire of lighting, radios, and communications.”

The major management shake-up aims to strengthen the company’s core leadership team.

NMK Group has announced significant leadership changes, aimed at strengthening its core leadership team. Alex Kemanes assumes the role of Regional Director for the Middle East, Dino Drimakis takes on the title of Strategic Development Director, while Nicolas Cox has been promoted to Managing Director of NMK in the UAE.

Charged with the oversight of the group’s activities in the region, Kemanes’ primary focus will be on organic growth across various business sectors and geographical territories while evaluating strategic acquisition opportunities. His new position also sees him take on the responsibilities of Managing Director at Midwich Ignite, signalling the inauguration

of Midwich Group PLC’s start-up investment division, where he will be responsible for formulating and implementing the company’s investment strategies.

Drimakis is tasked with spearheading NMK’s business development and market expansion efforts in the Middle East and Southern Asia. His role will include assembling teams and refining product portfolios tailored to the unique requirements of each region.

Meanwhile, the promotion of Cox to Managing Director of NMK in the UAE reflects his significant contributions to the company’s expansion in the region.

Photo: NMK Electronics

Photo: DLC Events
SHOWCASING PROFESSIONAL AUDIO, VIDEO, LIGHTING AND STAGING TECHNOLOGY FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY IN THE MEXICAN, SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICAN, AND CARIBBEAN MARKETS. NEW GUEST SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED Organised by: In Association with: Publisher of: Laura Iles WhatsApp: +447798840271 Justin Gawne WhatsApp: +447768850767 For more information contact: Media Partner Partner, Director of Business Development WSDG New York Sergio Molho John Mulder Production Manager Metallica Netherlands John Hopkins Co-Founder Celestial United Kingdom

First HARMAN Professional Experience Centre opens in KSA

The new facility in Jeddah joins HARMAN Professional’s global network of facilities in Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Shanghai.

Halwani Audio Visual (HAV) and HARMAN Professional Solutions has opened the inaugural HAV/HARMAN Experience Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This collaboration between HAV and HARMAN Professional marks a significant milestone in enhancing customer experience and expanding operations within the region.

The Jeddah location joins a network of HARMAN Professional’s global experience centres situated in key international hubs such as Los Angeles, London, Singapore, Shanghai, along with other distributor-led experience centres in separate regions worldwide. Additionally, HAV’s decision to also relocate its headquarters to this dynamic new space underscores its commitment to delivering unparalleled service to clients.

As a partner of HARMAN Professional audio brands, including JBL Professional, Crown, BSS, Soundcraft, AKG, and dbx, HAV’s state-of-the-

art 1,800 sqm facility will serve as a premier showcase for audio solutions tailored to both entertainment and enterprise markets. From live touring to installed and recording audio, visitors can immerse themselves in settings that highlight the versatility of HARMAN’s industry-leading product portfolio.

“The opening of the new HAV/HARMAN Experience Centre represents a significant investment in our Saudi operations and marks a pivotal shift in how we engage and support our valued customers,” said Bassam Halwani, CEO of Halwani Audio Visual. “This immersive environment will offer a comprehensive showcase of HARMAN’s industry leading applications, empowering visitors to explore diverse scenarios and gain invaluable insights into our audio solutions.”

Hamid Soufian, Vice President and General Manager, EMEA, HARMAN Professional Solutions,

echoed these sentiments, emphasising the strategic importance of HAV’s role in advancing business growth within the KSA.

“H AV’s longstanding HARMAN partnership and expertise have been instrumental in our success, and the launch of this experience centre signifies an exciting opportunity to deepen customer engagement and drive AV solution modernization throughout the region.

In addition to its showcase of innovative audio solutions, the new experience centre will host regular training sessions tailored for clients, consultants, and integrators. These sessions aim to enhance technical proficiency and equip participants with the knowledge needed to navigate the diverse requirements of audio solutions effectively.

Photos: Halwani Audio Visual


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