People attend the Soundstorm music festival, organized by MDLBEAST, in Banban on the outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh on December 16, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
The festival took place between 16 and 19 December and showcased a rich selection of the most popular pop, rap, and electronic artists from the Arab region and beyond performing on eight stages in Riyadh.
As the numbers revealed — and as described by Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority — Soundstorm has proven itself to be “one of the largest music festivals in the world.”
“We’ve never seen anything like this in Riyadh before — crowds, music, VIP rooms, and unconventional clothing for the kingdom,” reported AFP, quoting one Saudi woman who attended the festival.
Egyptian heavyweight artists such as Tamer Hosny, Amr Diab, and Mohamed Hamaki took part in the festival, performing alongside their regional counterparts — Wael Kfoury, Nancy Ajram, Elissa, and Asala — and other world-renowned stars.
The number of audience members greatly exceeded the expectations of MDLBEAST, the festival’s organisers, who expected around 500,000 attendees.
According to the numbers provided, the festival was attended by a total of 732,000 music fans. This is a significant increase in attendees in comparison to the Soundstorm’s first edition, which was held in 2019 and drew in a crowd of 400,000.
The festival’s second edition was originally planned to be held in 2020 but had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been hosting numerous music, film, and performing arts events across its cities, specifically Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al-Ula.
The Riyadh Season, which showcases artists from across the region, has been in full swing since October 2021 and will continue until February 2022.
Furthermore, Jeddah hosted the first edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival between 6 and 15 December.
Al-Ula also launched its third winter festival season, ‘Al-Ula Moments’, on 21 December, which will including four events: Tantora, Al-Ula Arts, Al-Ula Skies, and Al-Ula Wellness. Al-Ula Moments will also run until February 2022.