Timeframe: Beyonce's past performances in the UAE

The pop star played sold-out shows in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as a solo act and member of Destiny's Child

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In one of the most anticipated shows in recent years, Beyonce will perform an invitation-only concert at new Dubai resort Atlantis The Royal on Saturday night.

The exclusive affair not only marks her return to the stage since 2018, but also a chance to debut songs from acclaimed new album Renaissance ahead of a planned world tour in summer.

The concert also continues an enduring relationship with the UAE.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai were where she performed her first shows in the Middle East as both a solo artist and part of former group Destiny’s Child.

In 2009 she launched one of the region’s biggest concert venues, Etihad Park, and was the first artist to play as part of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix.

The success of the show helped cement the pioneering after-race concert series in the city before being replicated at other F1 races in Singapore, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

John Lickrish, chief executive of Flash Entertainment, the company behind all the Abu Dhabi F1 concerts, says the show was attended by 40,000 people, putting Abu Dhabi on the touring map.

The Canadian recalls the gig being one of the biggest of her I Am ... World Tour.

"I remember a massive line outside the venue that began at about 2pm that afternoon,” he says. "It was a good test for us to put on a show of that size in the venue for the first time."

Beyonce was at the peak of her powers by the time she set foot in Abu Dhabi in October.

A remarkable eight singles were already released from her fourth album, 2008’s I Am ... Sasha Fierce, which went on to sell more than 10 million copies.

"It was a bit of a coup in getting the deal done," Lickrish says.

"I remember being on a call with Mrs Knowles (Beyonce's mother Tina Knowles) and we discussed her daughter's show, what a great performer she was and how she wanted us to take care of her in every way possible.

"It was an hour-and-a-half conversation which was more one-sided than back and forth and at the end of the day she ended up coming here.”

Judging by the rapturous reception and Beyonce’s reaction, Lickrish and his team knew they achieved more than a career milestone.

The concert resonated in the tight circles of the live music industry and helped pave the way for future big-name acts such as Madonna, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney to add Abu Dhabi in their respective tours.

"My best memory from that show is the crowd going absolutely crazy and the big smile on Beyonce's face at the end of the show because it was one of the biggest she played up until that point," Lickrish said.

"It was definitely one to remember for the books.”

Beyonce probably wasn't too surprised by the crowd's reaction in Abu Dhabi, since UAE fans had been following her career since her days in Destiny's Child.

She also entertained a 16,000-strong audience at the group's sold-out show in Dubai Media City in 2005.

Putting that concert together was Thomas Ovesen, founder of Top Entertainment.

At that time, the Dane was no stranger to bringing big acts to the UAE, having secured Mariah Carey for the same venue the previous year.

Ovesen knew Beyonce was cut from a different cloth as soon as she arrived in the emirate.

“Beyonce came to Dubai the night before the concert while the rest of the band came two days before,” he previously told The National.

“I kid you not, she went from the airport, dumped her stuff in the hotel, and went straight to the venue for three hours of rehearsals. She wore out the group and the backing dancers. She was the bandleader and choreographer.

“You could just tell that she was going to be huge.”

As Beyonce prepares to launch the next phase of her successful career in Dubai tonight, UAE fans will once again be front row in experiencing a star in her prime.

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Updated: January 20, 2023, 6:01 PM