Building a Sound Community Under the Stars

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This musical performance at the open-air outdoor courtyard of Hayy Jameel in Jeddah celebrates contemporary independent Saudi music.


During the three-hour evening performance, a diverse group of young men and women will show why Saudi independent music is taking the Kingdom, and the world, by storm.

Moe Abdo, Ahmed Amin, Ghada, and X Factor Middle East winner Hamza Hawsawi will perform multiple sets, while DJ Raghad will spin and warm up between the sets. John Merchant, an American Grammy-nominated song engineer, will manage the sound.

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The concert reflects months of hard work among a group of academics, institutions, musicians and music professionals, and others, who believe that musicians have enormous opportunities under Vision 2030—a reform program that is open to fresh ideas and forms of expression. Among the most important of these academics are Dr. Sean Foley, who has written extensively on the Saudi creative class, and his colleague at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Merchant, who chairs one of the finest audio recording departments in the world.

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Over the last nine months, Foley and Merchant have conducted in-country research and scores of interviews with Saudi musicians and other musical professionals, who have stressed these core themes: success for the Saudi music industry relies on the country’s musicians supporting each other’s work, drawing on the country’s rich artistic tradition, and developing new pathways for creative expression.

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That includes robust intellectual property rights and a solid technical infrastructure, both of which underpin healthy creative industries around the world. Importantly, creative industries provide an opportunity for economic prosperity domestically, regionally, and internationally. The Ministry of Culture, the Music Commission, Art Jameel, and other leading Saudi institutions will also play a key role in promoting creativity and music in particular in the Kingdom.

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The United States, as a global leader in music and entertainment, aims to partner with Saudi Arabia in developing a thriving music scene that reflects the country’s unique culture and traditions. That is why the US State Department and the US Consulate in Jeddah partnered with MTSU to fund Foley and Merchant’s work on Saudi independent music, including the concert at Hayy Jameel under the stars.

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