RIYADH: “You know two years ago, no one would have ever expected us to bring in international touring artists into Saudi. It’s a new story, and we are spending a lot of time explaining what is happening (in Saudi Arabia) and talking about Saudi,” James Craven, president of Live Nation, told Arab News. “So, I’m trying to get some of these guys to come and see for themselves.”
“I want the people in the industry to come and see the changes, come and see what’s happening and meet the people.”
As for Craven, he has seen the true potential of Vision 2030 and the changes which have taken place in the Kingdom, “I’m hoping to encourage the guys we work with in the music industry from the US and London to come and see because I think they will be staggered at the scale and the operation behind the Riyadh Season.”
“It’s something that I’m really keen to let more people see, to get them excited and engaged in what’s happening in Saudi; to me that’s really important.”
“There is nothing more hospitable than the Saudi people. That’s a reality. We have a big team of people working now and they are from all over the world, including 10 Saudi interns.” he said
The interns were part of a summer program that witnessed first-hand the festivals, music and large public events in the UK. These interns are now engaged in working with Live Nation for the Riyadh Season.
Riyadh Season kicked off with the BTS concert, the largest BTS concert in the region with an audience of about 40,000. “Getting BTS is a huge win, because they are the most in demand.”
Craven recalls when they first announced the concert, he was in Spain and it started trending in Spain about the Riyadh show.
“I went on to look at that tweet and I saw 3k retweets in literally 3 minutes into the announcement and it just kept on going and going.”
I’m hoping to encourage the guys we work with in the music industry from the US and London to come and see because I think they will be staggered at the scale and the operation behind the Riyadh Season.
James Craven, President of Live Nation
Still on the hush and not yet announced, more international concerts are coming to Riyadh, “There are going to be some great shows coming in work, but nothing can be bigger that the BTS!”
However, he remarked that “absolutely fantastic shows” are to come for Riyadh Season, which will appeal to “different ages and demographics.” An announcement of the next Western show can be expected in the coming couple of weeks, he said.
In other countries around the world the sales cycle for concerts would run 3 months before a show to see it sold out, while in Saudi Arabia in a matter of days shows will be sold out.
He said that is “unusual and not typically how it works” around the world. However, this has proven true in Saudi, whether for last year’s Formula E or Jeddah Season.
“There is no doubt that in Saudi, you can actually put it out on sale three days before a show and have it sold out.”
“It (Saudi) seems to change weekly at the moment. I’ve been coming in and out of Saudi for almost nine years. To see what’s happening now is extraordinary. Just to see the joy that all the changes are bringing too, particularly to the young people, is phenomenal, whether that be music or theater or cinema or even just women driving, these changes are profound and you can see how it impacts on people’s daily lives.
“We play a small part by bringing some content and music and it makes people smile, that’s a good thing. It’s an exciting time.”
Riyadh Season has been announced as the biggest season Saudi Arabia has had yet, outstripping the Jeddah and Sharqiyah Seasons. With the opening of tourism visas and the huge range of activities, Riyadh Season expects to attract 5 million visitors.