The Square: Dubai Blues Festival to open new ‘hassle free’ events venue

Located in Dubai Sports City, the space is designed to host an intimate range of concerts

US singer Big Daddy Wilson will perform at the Dubai Blues Festival on January 27. Photo: The Square

Expect music festivals, concerts and New Year’s Eve celebrations at Dubai’s newest performance venue, The Square.

Located at the Inspiratus Sports District, also known as ISD, in Dubai Sports City, the outdoor site will launch this month with the three-day Dubai Blues Festival beginning from January 27.

The event, headlined by US players Sax Gordon and Big Daddy Wilson, will be followed up by a string of jazz shows held in February, says the venue’s managing director Anthony Younes.

Younes is a veteran of the UAE events industry, having launched The Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival in 2003 under the company Chillout Productions.

With the festival taking on a more pop music approach once acquired by the company Done Events in 2018, Younes wants to channel some of the laid-back charm of the festival’s early years with The Jazz Garden annual series that he subsequently launched in various Dubai venues.

These elements come together with The Square hosting the Dubai Blues Festival and the new season of The Jazz Garden, the latter featuring 18 international artists performing over four subsequent weekends, on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning from February 4 to 26.

Both events, Younes says, will showcase the venue’s capacity and vibe to the public and event organisers.

“The whole aim here is to deliver a stress-free and comfortable environment for all involved,” he says.

“The space is wide but caters to an intimate crowd of up to 5,000 people standing up. However, with safety measures because of Covid-19 all shows will be seated so the capacity now is at 1,500 people.”

With 1,500 car park spaces, ample food and beverage stations serving five different cuisines ranging from North American and Tex-Mex to Mediterranean, Younes says to be “hassle free", is the goal.

It is a message also aimed at promoters with The Square, which is home to a permanent stage, in-house speakers and production facilities, thus limiting some of the production costs involved.

"It is fully equipped with sound, lights and a medium sized stage that carries up to 10 or 12 musicians,” he says. “It’s what we call a ‘plug in and play’ venue in that it is essentially ready to go.”

With that said, not every genre is suitable for such a set up. To get the best of The Square’s easy-going vibe, an intimate act is needed to make the venue truly shine.

“Once we get back to full capacity it makes for a great mid-sized outdoor venue,” Younes says. “So to really activate a place like that you are looking at – and these are just suggestions here – artists like [UK singer-songwriter] David Gray or [Irish rockers] The Script.”

Younes confirms that a number of third party promoters have already booked dates at the venue for concerts by “western acts” in March, with announcements soon to come.

A large New Year’s celebrations with a fireworks display is also on the cards for this year.

Built in three months over a former rugby pitch, The Square aims to be a major UAE events hub with its location only a 20-minute drive from Downtown Dubai, Expo 2020 Dubai and the Dubai Marina.

“And there is also about 40,000 people living in Dubai Sports City and Dubai Motor City,” he says. “So yes, we do think it’s a good location where we can try a lot of different things in a cool and comfortable way.”

Dubai Blues Festival runs at The Square, ISD at Dubai Sports City from January 27 to 29. Shows begin from 9pm. Minimum spend is Dh250, to be fully redeemable on food and beverages. All bookings to be made on thesquaredubai.com

Updated: January 10th 2022, 1:34 PM