Emerging from their third year in Saudi Arabia, MDLBeast’s SoundStorm Music Festival has become a first event of its kind in the country and the self-described “loudest in the region.” With staggering 800,000 attendees it’s now the largest music festival in the world too, dwarfing world famous events like Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival and Belgium’s Tomorrowland by comparison. With bigger attendance numbers and broader international appeal, the festival is arguably more important to Saudi Arabia than Woodstock was for America in the ‘60s. Specifically for women in the Middle East, this is an important moment. For the first time in centuries Arab women are expressing themselves through dance, but that’s only the beginning. They can also help throw the party as a member of production or operations. They can even be a DJ headlining on one of SoundStorm’s seven stages. For young Arab girls, this may be the first time ever seeing such inspiring heroines and role models.
Speaking with several such female powerhouses, Your EDM set out to learn more about the voice women are discovering in Saudi Arabia through the festival. We also wanted to glean a bit about how that voice is being received both within the country and on the international stage.
What they had to say rocked our perception of the Arab world and encouraged us (in the West) to keep an eye on the event as it continues to impact the culture there. If the words from the women below are any indication, we may be witnessing a truly historic moment for Saudis.
To hear it in their own words, read on!
“I love how everyone was there attending for their favorite musician and that included many women like my friends Dorar, Kayan and Biirdperson and my personal favorite Eli & Fur, our Saudi ladies got to showcase to the world that they can rock the crowd better than anyone else and they had men and women supporting them and cheering for them in the audience.”
– Cosmicat, Headliner at SoundStorm
“In truth a majority of the industry is led by men wherever you are in the world, however women are increasingly taking on leadership roles in the sector both internationally and regionally. I’ve personally seen incredible growth and development of a very confident and ambitious local female workforce stepping up into critical positions.”
– Angela Selkirk, Director Core Planning; Event Control, Health & Safety and Security
“The love and connection [young Arab women] share with us even post-festival is something beautiful to experience and to be a part of… I feel happy and fortunate to witness such historical moments and to be part of the collective celebration. [It’s like] everything I’ve ever dreamt of as an artist I can manifest today.”
– KAYAN, Headliner at SoundStorm
“The music industry in the Kingdom is going through a historic transformation, and women will be at the forefront of this empowering evolution. The number of women I am seeing entering the Saudi music business is something we’ve never witnessed before – and this is just the beginning. It’s important to note that these opportunities don’t exist everywhere around the world but they do exist here and we as women are fully embracing them. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
– Nada al-Helabi, Strategy Director at MDLBeast / Director of Programming at XP Music Feature