RIYADH: Last Friday, electronic music reverberated through the Riyadh desert at NOX Camp Desert Resort, which brought together fans of desert music, art and sports for a one-of-a-kind event.
Exclusive music and arts event organizer Desert Sound Entertainment has introduced its first-ever experience, Mars Escape, to the Saudi community. It transported some thousand attendees to another world, characterized by live art, face painting and fire shows.
The shining moon helped create a celestial night atmosphere as the music sounded louder and louder. World-renowned DJs literally set the stage on fire. Among them were Alaa Jazaeri, Rafa, NarkBeat and a surprise performance by Ibbie, a local DJ.
We found on the main stage several artists during the festival which lasted ten hours. Rafa gave the crowd a sensory and authentically organic house experience, while NarkBeat’s performance won over the crowd with particularly sensuous oud sounds. Alaa Jazaeri, founder of a similar music festival titled “Narratives,” slowed the pace with a set of organic, emotional house music, taking festival-goers on a kind of mini-trip.
The music reached its peak with Satori, a world-renowned Dutch producer whose music focuses on spirituality and enlightenment. It was he who closed the event. This stop in Riyadh is part of his world tour during this month, with shows planned in Moscow, Stockholm and London.
Rafa gave the crowd a sensory and authentically organic house experience, while NarkBeat’s performance won over the crowd with particularly sensuous oud sounds.
“I never imagined that people could know me in this part of the world and interact in this way with my music. It is a real pleasure for me. Yes, I have been playing in this region for a few years now, in Dubai, Egypt, the Sultanate of Oman and Lebanon, but never in Arabia yet,” Satori said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.
The soft sounds of Satori, which are inspired by Japanese satori (spiritual awakening which is the goal of Zen meditation, editor’s note), cannot be reduced to a single genre, but rather to a feeling. His music combines elements of self exploration, telluric melodies, psychedelic overtones and lively energy. The rising piano crescendo, synthetic electronic beats and kalimba set off a round of cheers as people danced. Almost all of the listeners were in a trance state and surrendered to the music.
“I have the impression, on my side, of participating in the innovation. There is a kind of evolution, and just to be part of it is, for me, a very great honor. It feels like we’re writing history and I’m kind of part of that chapter,” he said of his latest performance. “After all, music is a universal language that people understand even if they are not used to this type of event. People feel it.”
Although primarily featuring musical performances, this event certified by the General Authority for Entertainment in Saudi Arabia included a wide range of cultural activities like art installations, graffiti, street art, immersive booths virtual reality, games and continuous catering services. “We wanted to complete the musical experience by reconnecting with nature and expressing ourselves through art and music,” deputy director Rima al-Saud says in an interview with Arab News.
Spectators were ready to indulge in the cultural aspect of the experience. “It’s my very first experience, and the atmosphere is very pleasant,” says one of the participants, Bha’a Mahdi. “It’s a shame there weren’t more people. The place is beautiful, amazing. It’s almost unreal. I liked the music, even if I would have liked it to present more contrasts. I felt in perfect harmony with the desert, to the point that I even took off my shoes,” he said.
Other participants had similar reactions. “The location is good and the atmosphere is nice. But I would have liked there to be more people,” observed one of them.
“The ground is a real obstacle, because the sand does not allow you to dance or walk”, explains another festival-goer.
This international programming and diverse activities come after a series of events aimed at those music lovers – the latest being Freaks of Nature – which brought a new dynamic to family entertainment businesses this weekend in Riyadh.
This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com
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Dutch artist Satori, star of an event organized in the desert of Riyadh