Warming up to Music Festivals

The Sultanate has been eyeing tourism as a major contributor to its economic growth and evidence of this can be found not only in the number of new infrastructures being built but also in the continued improvements of existing ones. Recently, one major development on the tourism front includes the relaxation of visa rules for tourists from Russia, China and India.
With dedicated focus in getting more travellers to make Oman as their preferred destination, local businesses with hotels at the forefront are trying their best to provide diversity to the entertainment they offer.
One trend noticeable this season are music festivals which tend to unite people from different backgrounds and sectors.
These pocket music festivals allow, especially the young expats, to come to a common space not only to socialize but enjoy an evening of fun and relaxation and a temporary escape from the daily humdrums of their professional lives.
This weekend alone, more than three major social events, all taking an important slice of their respective venue’s calendar, took place in major hotels in the country infusing the local scene with the needed boost and snatching party people’s attention away from the neighbouring Dubai.
“We’d been studying the trend and part of a good public relation and marketing strategy is knowing what your targeted clients need,” Vianney Antonio, PR and Marketing Manager for one of the local hotels, shared.
“There are a lot of considerations to be made. One should not only worry about local competitions but also think about the competition being offered by neighbouring places like Dubai,” she said.
“Our hotel is one of the first few hotels who considered the pulse of the wanting public. Social media has recently become a battleground as more and more establishments have recognized the importance of diversity in hotel events. Themed nights are often the easiest route but it seemed to go bigger recently,” she added.
“We really love good concepts and partnered with Spirals Group, an events company comprised of young people who have good idea of how to sell events, to bring Winter Storm. It was a resounding success and this can be felt all over social media. I personally think it’s the most successful event held over the weekend,” Antonio said.

Winter has come
In the popular The Cave Restaurant in Darsait, Rumba Lattina hosted ‘One Night in Amsterdam World Tour’ headlined by Netherlands’ pride DJ Ziggy.
InterContinental Muscat also had their Opening Season Pool Party entertained by the music mixes of DJ Amanda. Other hotels continued with their themed nights — Ladies Night, Salsa Night among others.
Perhaps the most ambitious this weekend was Winter Storm organised by the Spirals Group held at the Sama Terrazza Rooftop Lounge of Park Inn Hotel Muscat. It was scheduled to start at two in the afternoon and end at two in the morning — an ambitious 12-hour soiree bringing about 10 DJs under one roof with majority of them local DJs.
Danish Kahn — young and charismatic with a string of successful events under his belt — is the head of Spirals Group who made the event possible.
“Spirals Group specialises in all kinds of live concerts, music festival and corporate events. We bank on our very strong marketing, promotion and execution team and has good command of social pulse in Oman. Our social media will show the enormity of the following we’ve managed to gain,” Danish introduced.
The setup was simple — a DJ booth stands in the far corner of the hotel’s rooftop, behind it was the kaleidoscopic view of Muscat’s skyline. To the left is the hotel’s pool and the surrounding ground was peppered with chic tables. Around it, big spaces for people to interact and groove to the music.
By around 10 in the evening, the place was jam-packed. The music lined up was varied — from trance to pop to remixes — all with the goal of making the attendees sway to the beat.
Headlined by Belgian electronic DJ Sem Thomasson, who gained popularity for his remixes of music by recognized international artists and for his worthy inclusion in world renowned festivals like Tomorrowland, Winter Storm is considered as one of Oman’s hip and must-attend parties. Two of Oman’s favourite DJs, DJ AB and Dub Bass also graced the event with their own mixes.
“After successfully launching several other parties, we created Sunset Musica Festival which was also a huge success. People loved it. We’ve created this high expectation amongst our followers and we cannot afford to lose that. Winter Storm is a result of creative brainstorming. We wanted something unique which has never happened in Oman. Being held in mid-October and with people waiting for winter so that they can go out and enjoy the outdoors, we came up with this concept of a winter festival,” Danish shared.
“We’ve compiled the nine best deejays that the crowd of Oman really loves. DJ AB and Dub Bass got excellent knowledge of their music and being in Oman for so long, they know the pulse of the country and can give what the people want,” he said.
As for DJ Sem, Danish said that he “has been performing in the world stage and has been to the biggest festivals like Tomorrowland where more than hundreds of thousands of people attend. He is a popular figure in the industry” making him worthy to headline the event.

A flourishing trend
“Music festival is a good initiative, something that has not reach peak potential yet in Oman,” Antonio said.
A music scene observer who requested not to be named shared that she predicts, with the right support and push, it will be a growing trend.
“But it has to be done properly and the right balance must be maintained. Primary of all considerations is respecting local customs,” the observer added.
For Danish and his team, “Oman culture and tradition” are always on their mind when they execute an event.
“I’d been in the country for 26 years. I consider it as my own country and I know my limits and has high regard and respect for the culture of Oman,” he said.
“Even in the planning stage, we already look into the type of crowd we want to target. We always make sure people who attend our events are dressed decent and they come and enjoy the event in a very healthy way,” he said.
For Cecilia Pitre who was at Winter Storm event, she said that it was the best event she has attended since she got to Muscat. A French lifestyle and events designer herself, she’s attended a lot of parties not only in her home country but also when she was in Bangkok when she was stationed there for a few years.
“This event was rockin’. Great set-up and the music was awesome. I can’t wait for the next one,” she shared on her social media account.
Asked what their future plans are, Danish said that he and his team have events lined up for 2018.
“We mainly operate in winter season as the weather is very supportive in conducting outdoor events. We will keep doing such kind of festival and make people love us for what we do. During summers however, we focus more on corporate events.”
He added, “People are really expecting a lot after the success of Winter Storm. Our next event will be November and then we will close 2017 with a grand new year’s event. I am just waiting for my brother DJ HD to come back soon and join us in 2018 for our next events.”

Yeru EBUEN