Adventures in Saudi Arabia – Haia
En route to a meeting with the client yesterday, I was talking to the organiser about the other events his company works on and he told me about the time that Stomp came to Saudi Arabia recently.
You may know that even by Middle Eastern standards, Saudi Arabia is known to be on the strict side. Locals here go to Dubai if they want something to do. There’s just not much entertainment here.
To hold an event here, requires Government permission – entertainment to adults is fairly strictly controlled, and kept to a bit of a minimum. It’s ok to entertain children within reason, but there’s no cinemas, no theme parks, none of the indoor ski-slopes and ice rinks you’d find in Dubai. Of course it’s also a ‘dry’ country and alcohol/bars are not allowed in any circumstances. You can’t bring in duty free. You can’t bring in valium.
This is upheld by the religious police, known as ‘Haia’. They dress in typical local clothes (long white Jelobia with headgear) and venues have to be very conscious of the fact that they could turn up and close down your show. As they did with Stomp. After the first day, it was decided they were too loud and what they were doing constituted too much entertainment and they were shut down.
So this is my challenge of the day – I have my first shows this evening at 7.45, 8.30 and 10.15. They’re supposed to contain a fair bit of loud music, and I generally consider my job is to get the kids screaming and making as much noise as possible.
Wish me luck!