Timeframe: How Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena changed the events scene when it opened in 2019

When the crowds roll into Coca-Cola Arena on Sunday to listen to the romantic sounds of Jeff Chang, the Taiwanese crooner renowned as the “king of love ballads”, his gig will join a rich tapestry of more than 250 events from pop concerts and comedy shows to sporting bouts to have taken place at the venue.

Coca-Cola Arena celebrates its fifth anniversary this week.

To measure its impact over the years, you need only to look at the concert landscape before the arrival of the 17,000-capacity arena in 2019.

Even the most casual gig-goer will recognize the UAE concert calendar is purely seasonal, with most big events taking place on either side of the summer months. Not only were they held in makeshift stages in parks and conference halls, but the time frame often limited the number of artists available to perform in the region.

Opening at the onset of the summer months, the multipurpose and air-conditioned Coca-Cola Arena was able to land some big names en route to Europe for lucrative summer tours.

This included big-selling pop group Maroon 5, who were the first musical act to perform at the arena on June 14, 2019, followed by the likes of UK rockers The 1975, boy band Westlife, and RnB singer Alicia Keys.

This year, RnB star Jason Derulo and pop star Enrique Iglesias are coming to the arena over the hotter months.

As well as breaking new ground for the regional concert scene, the venue also became a true test case for the global events industry on how to truly cater to a diverse audience.

Hussain Al Jassmi is a regular performer at Coca-Cola Arena. Photo: Coca-Cola Arena

Leading spaces in New York and London may have a multicultural clientele, but that pales in comparison to the diversity and concentration of population the Coca-Arena has to service.

This necessitates creating an events calendar tailored to the needs of specific genres and ethnic groups.

“The clientele for a Southeast Asian show, for instance, has different taste buds than guests at an Arabic show,” arena general manager Mark Jan Kar recently told industry publication Pollstar. “The timings of shows differ, as does what is acceptable in terms of children attending, all the way through to the price points of tickets.

“If we, for example, undertake a Punjabi show, we create additional distance between the rows on the floor, so they can dance and celebrate.”

When it comes to Arabic concerts, the arena has helped some artists to up their game and provide a stage befitting their stature.

Coca-Cola Arena. courtesy: Coca-Cola Arena.

Whereas many traditionally performed in hotel grand ballrooms, Arab pop acts such as now regular arena performers Hussain Al Jassmi, Kadim Al Saher, and Najwa Karam have learned to read the bigger room and deliver a more interactive show in the process.

With the global live events sector temporarily devastated due to COVID-19, the arena also stepped up to help forge a path forward for a recovering industry.

In January 2021, DJ Alan Walker performed the UAE’s first concert since the onset of the pandemic, which had socially distanced fans dancing in their seats.

More milestones would follow, with the venue hosting the Inaugural World Tennis League in 2022, which came with after-match concerts by the likes of pop stars Wizkid, Neyo, and Mohamed Ramadan.

This year, the arena showcased its Hollywood credentials by hosting the world premiere of Bad Boys: Ride of Die with actors Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the audience.

With Dubai’s first professional basketball franchise to have the space as its home turf, the impact of the Coca-Cola Arena will be seen and heard for a long time to come.

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Brilliant Minds Events
BM Events is owned and operated by an experienced team of German professionals with various backgrounds in management, events and hospitality. By combining efforts, the BM Events consolidates organizational and efficient processes, in order to pay special attention to the client’s needs, requirements and schedules.

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