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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - By Anas Alyusuf
Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — MDL Beast, the largest music, arts and culture festival here drew more than 130,000 eager fans from across the world on the first day of the three-day event, outperforming other global festivals like Belgium’s Tomorrowland and California’s Coachella.
With the record attendance on Thursday, the MDL Beast Music Festival shot to the top of the most-attended musical event across the world. The Tomorrowland music festival had an estimated 66,000 people attending annually while Coachella in California saw nearly 99,000 every year.
Crowds streamed in at Saudi Arabia’s first ever multi-stage music festival to watch global music superstars including Tiësto, Martin Garrix, Black Coffee, Swizz Beatz and Rick Ross plus local talent Cosmicat, DJ Baloo, Dish Dash, Hatoon Idrees and Simi Haze.
MDL Beast is a landmark moment and truly unique experience for Saudis and international visitors to the Kingdom alike, as it is for the first time they have been able to enjoy so many different areas of Saudi Arabia’s culture, arts and music industries showcased in one purpose-built venue.
Idrees, 32, a versatile Saudi female musician, Oud player, DJ and a music producer described her participation in the MDL Beast Festival as “dream come true”.
“I played DJ and joined the Oud repertoire with the deep house music,” Idrees told Saudi Gazette about her show in the MDL Beast on Thursday.
About her special bond with one of the oldest stringed instrument, Oud, Idrees said, “Oud and I are one. I play Oud with all my senses and really emote the feelings of happiness, anger, passion, strength, weakness through the pear-shaped instrument. I feel that we talk to each other sometimes and that may sound crazy.”
“The latest thing I have come up with is a syncing of sounds that I started joining Oud with deep house music and many other music, that’s what makes my music more special,” Idrees added.
”As a Saudi female in the music industry I welcome the changes. For along with Vision 2030 everything has changed and we have got the chance and opportunity to show ourselves to the world.”
Local DJ Cosmicat said: “This is the biggest music festival in the region, here in Saudi Arabia we have never had a music festival before, and now we are doing it big!”
“It’s not just the first, it’s the largest and we are expecting probably over 200,000 people so it really is pretty big! It’s great for the locals and for local artists, it gives them such a huge platform to show the world what Saudi is capable of,” Cosmicat added.
The main stage, ‘Big Beast’ was opened by Simi Haze, the Saudi-born identical twin DJs who have been taking the fashion and music worlds by storm and have now returned to their home country to perform at MDL Beast.
The 45,000-person capacity ‘Big Beast’ stage is the biggest built in the world this year, and the dynamic duo kicked the festivities off in awesome Saudi style!
In the Underground Beast district, visitors saw 19 acts over 3 stages made from containers all decorated by local graffiti artists. Combined with some of the best audio-visual equipment and design, the underground zones provided a uniquely different perspective to the main stage and attracted huge crowds of locals and international festival goers.
The retail therapy district, MDL Town and Saudi Alley local food court welcomed men and women to sample the very best of local and international brands in food, fashion & design.
Chefs from all over the world created bespoke menus and mocktails especially for the event, and designers were on site showcasing their amazing Saudi designs to the world.
On day one, performers put on 22 shows, all totally unique to MDL Beast.
The Arts Beast district featured a series of incredible immersive performances and visual spectacular effects, while street theatre performers roamed the grounds interacting with guests.
As night fell, The Arts Beast district visitors were treated to scenes of stunning light parades and illuminated drumming troupes weaving their way through the festival.
“We are so proud of what we have been able to do in Riyadh and that we can showcase Saudi Arabia’s potential for more large-scale events like this in the future.” John Rash, Creative Director, MDL Beast Festival said.
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