June 28, 2022
people from all over the world, in a vivid expression of the rapid

MDLBeast Soundstorm festival symbolizes a new society for young Saudis

Inside the gates of MDLBeast’s Soundstorm festival north of Riyadh, young Saudi men and women danced to electronic music along with people from all over the world, in a vivid expression of the rapid social changes taking place within the Kingdom.

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Attendees described their pride for their country, and predicted a bright future for a society that was once considered one of the strictest in the world.

While the festival experienced some of the growing pains that would be expected from an event of its scale and novelty – not least the heavy traffic leading to the site in Banban – the mood inside the site was one of elation.

Running from December 16-19, it was the second edition of the blockbuster event first held in 2019 as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reforms that legalized public concerts, cinema screenings, and female drivers among a slew of other changes.

Soundstorm was 21-year-old Riyadh resident Basil al-Omari’s first ever festival.

For him, it was symbolic of a “big future” for Saudi Arabia. He reflected on how Saudi social norms are changing in a positive way, allowing genders to mix at events without fear of repercussions.

Noora Maghrebi, from Jeddah, told Al Arabiya English: “Everything is great here; the food, the vibes, the people.”

The young IT manager said that she never would have imagined that such an event would take place in the Kingdom.

“I’m very proud that we reached this state, and I’m pleased to be here today.”The festival showcased more than 150 international and local artists over seven stages at the sprawling site, boasting such names as DJ Snake, Future, David Guetta, and Afrojack on the lineup.

Organizers MDLBeast estimated that more than 180,000 people attended on the first day.

MDLBeast went to great lengths to ensure the safety of attendees, with a zero-tolerance policy towards harassment market by the ‘Reset and Respect’ campaign.

People who experienced harassment were urged to report it through the festival’s mobile app, and there were at least six ‘Reset and Respect’ centers scattered across the site where people could escape the throng of the crowds and unwind.

But the overall atmosphere of the festival was not one of intimidation – the absence of overt consumption of drugs and alcohol made for a generally well-behaved crowd.