The year 2020 has been a whirlwind of change for the events industry.
At the beginning of the year, exciting plans were in place for another year of amazing live entertainment in Abu Dhabi. However, COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it. With large gatherings cancelled across the globe, including in the UAE, the industry has not been able to operate the usual way.
There have been no stadium concerts, sporting events with attending fans or mass celebrations in Abu Dhabi for several months and no one is sure when restrictions will be completely lifted. Without summer’s much-anticipated events going ahead, there are, of course, many disappointed fans.
The new normal in the events world
All is far from lost, however. The entertainment and events industry is 100% fan and people-led. There is an overwhelming desire to still bring a big smile to everyone’s faces and to provide the same human connections that attending a live event would bring. So in these strange times, the industry has gone online.
At breakneck speed, events organizers in the UAE have reinvented the events and entertainment worlds. In a short time, they have been able to share some amazing live events directly into people’s homes. This tech is bringing people together through a shared love of music, sports and much more.
Here are some most exciting ways you can access events through technology in the UAE:
1. Virtual events and apps
Virtual events were already becoming popular before COVID-19 entered the scene, but the pandemic has pushed them to the forefront of the events world.
Virtual events replicate location-based events, such as professional conferences, trade shows, and fan conventions. With international and even regional travel curtailed, events staged online present an unmissable opportunity to connect with others in your professional field or fellow fans.
What might you expect to see or do at a virtual event? To attend a virtual event, you only need a phone (or laptop) with an internet connection. Once you “arrive,” you’ll be able to access a variety of features that may include presentations, live seminars, videoconferencing, or one-to-one live chat.
Through apps, virtual events can be just as interactive as physical events.
The tech is there to replicate everything you might expect from an in-person event; guests can interact through integrated social media channels, and gamification keeps events engaging through quizzes and competitions. There can be corporate boots and sponsored areas. Big data analysis and AI is helping to personalize events for attendees, too.
Virtual events are an exciting eco-friendly trend that looks set to continue post-lockdown restrictions. Look for international events that can connect you with people all over the globe with no need for international air travel, or more regional events aimed at GCC residents that will also help you reduce your carbon footprint.
2. Live streaming of performances
A shared love of music has always connected people. No other experience can quite replicate the energy and buzz of a live concert with thousands of fans present.
If you’ve attended a gig at Du Arena with 40,000 other people, such as during Coldplay’s 2016 concert, you will surely understand. It’s not just live music, however, that brings human connection; there is also theater, stand-up comedy, ballet and contemporary dance, poetry and readings, and much more.
Sadly, we will have to be patient a little longer until we can attend shows in large numbers again. But, in the meantime, online and virtual concerts have brought both solace and positivity.
The “One World: Together At Home” concert united music lovers around the globe in April. Inspired by the LiveAid tradition, dozens of performers shared their music from their own homes, including Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and Billie Eilish.
This tremendous feat of organization, staged just a few weeks into lockdown and for free, wowed the world and raised millions of dollars in donations to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
More local to home, Flash Live; Eid Celebrations united music lovers across the GCC with a free online concert themed “Better Together.” Homegrown talent, including Layla Kardan, Abri and FAFA, performed from a virtual stage. This meant people across the emirates and beyond could enjoy shared Eid celebrations while staying socially distant. Valuable funds were also raised for essential workers during this event.
These are just two examples of large online events, but there are plenty of low-key events happening, too. While you wait to see them in person, it’s well worth keeping an eye on your favorite artist’s social media pages and YouTube channels for more events and performances to stream at home.
3. Social media and entertainment apps
Social media is a great place to find out everything on offer during this unusual time.
Follow performers’ and sports people’s pages, but be sure to follow event organizers’ pages, too. For instance, Flash Entertainment’s Twitter feed contains lots of news about free online events and performances, and what your favorite stars are up to during lockdown. You can also relive your favorite live performances in Abu Dhabi through exclusive footage.
Some event organizers have great apps, too. By downloading these, you’ll get the same benefits as following social media pages: lots of great content. There’s added gamification, too. Take part in polls, quizzes or access fun selfie filters, for instance. You’ll also be in line to be first to hear about gigs, concerts and tournaments when they reschedule and have the opportunity to book right there and then.
Practicing the new normal
Social distancing has moved many human interactions online as we strive to stay safe in our homes. While we desperately miss the thrill of live performances and big-name stadium concerts, we can still enjoy the incredible talent of our favorite performers with the help of an internet connection.
Many insiders in the events industry believe that the changes we are experiencing now will not be temporary. When it’s safe to attend live events, tournaments and festivals in person again, the pioneering and interactive tech will stay, meaning we have the best of both worlds to look forward to.