Dubai based event production company Kenkaato has produced the first ever live public music event to be staged in the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park in Doha, Qatar.
The initial concert in a series of music shows planned over the coming months was headlined by Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens – also on his first ever live appearance in the Middle East - and was completely sold out, attracting a capacity audience of 2,800 including 221 VIPs and senior members of the Qatari Royal Family.
Kenkaato is a fresh new company established by Sarah Whitmarsh and Daryl Payne to provide imaginative, turnkey, full production solutions for all types of live events.
Both Whitmarsh and Payne have extensive experience working on a variety of large scale and high profile productions in the Middle East region.
The company's brief for the MIA Park show from the Qatar Museums Authority included the provision of complete event production and co-ordinating all the technical and logistical elements needed to make it happen. The Museums Authority were especially keen to have a single-source production company putting the show together, giving them just one point of contact.
In addition to this, Kenkaato dealt with all the logistics, artist negotiation, artist liaison and travel arrangements both locally and internationally. They also advised on a marketing plan and promotion for the series of concerts, which are intended to become a regular Doha cultural highlight.
Kenkaato's on-site team in Doha included production manager Chris McDonnell and artist liaison Rebecca Bryant. One of their key beliefs is ensuring that the right people are in the right places on an event, not just to make everything run smoothly and efficiently, but also to create a great atmosphere and working environment.
Whitmarsh and Payne utilised their extensive local and regional contact base to source all aspects needed to stage a successful and â€˜first' ground-breaking show.
Kenkaato themselves designed the site layout, which included a bespoke roof system, with plenty of space and weight loading to be able to accommodate cutting-edge international productions. This was evolved with the help of Ross Cameron and Al Laith Event Services' Qatar operation, in collaboration with Serious Stages, who engineered the new roof and were onsite for the install.
With the Park and the stage within it, setting the scene for the event, “We wanted to create something unique and completely different, to anything that had been seen here before,” explains Whitmarsh.
Specifically, they wanted a construction that would have the right aesthetic impact for the setting and offer all the necessary production facilities.
The result was a standard Al Laith stage base with an elegant, separate, skyward pointing, cantilevered tensile roof structure, the look of which is based on classic Arabic arch architecture.
At 25 metres wide, it has a decent headroom of 14 metres, and an impressive weight loading of up to 32 tonnes and 2 tonnes on the 7 metre rising cantilever.
The seating – also supplied by Al Laith – was an integral to the overall site design, and has created an intimate â€˜enveloping' space bringing the audience close to the stage, so they can experience a direct communication with the artist and the action.
The roof is finished with white skins on the outside – specifically designed to be illuminated at night – and black on the inside to reduce glare and reflections bouncing around, and ideal for optimising onstage lighting and video effects. The cantilever was also internally lined in white, allowing another element for light play.
A camera system, PPU and left and right IMAG screens – made from Lighthouse R7 LED - were supplied by CT Qatar for the Yusuf Islam show.
Lighting and sound came from Creative Communications Group (CCG), Qatar's leading professional lighting and sound rental company.
For audio, an L-Acoustics Kudo system provided crystal clear quality sound throughout the venue, together with a really expedient profile, and satisfied all the requirements of the artists' engineers. The lighting included over 50 Clay Paky Alpha series moving heads, assorted conventionals, and was also to the spec of Yusuf Islam's touring LD.
Architectural lighting for the stage and roof structure was designed by Michel Khairallah from CCG, who used Griven Kolorado 4K colour changing wash fixtures to highlight its clear lines and distinctive shaping.
A backstage â€˜production village' included green rooms dressing rooms and production offices, all supplied by De Boer, and the stage and site was powered by two 500 KVA auto-synched gennies from Prime Power, overseen by Steve Ford, who also provided a crew of electricians.
The very specific backline requirements were met by Melody House from Dubai.
Kenkaato's remit included formulating a traffic plan for VIP transport, bus routes from the park-and-ride and general site crowd management.
Being the first public music event on the site, Kenkaato found themselves creating a â€˜scope of the works' in conjunction with the Museums Authority as the site evolved which enabled contracts to be drawn up and signed.
“We really like working in unusual and challenging spaces, so we were very proud to have the chance to be â€˜the first' in a very special environment and to be able to set standards of excellence to be followed,” says Payne.
Yusuf Islam's manager Majid M Hussain commented after the event, “Yusuf, his band the Roadsters and our crew really enjoyed the experience. Everything was made easy, from the technicals to the hospitality and that's what helped make it such a special first show for Yusuf in the Middle East. The stage was fantastic and it was befitting for Yusuf's repertoire to be out in the open performing his hits”.
The concert was a huge success, and became an instant talking-point in Qatar, and everyone is already eagerly anticipating the next one on March 15th headlined by leading Arabic artist, Hussain Al Jassmi.
Says Whitmarsh, “From the beginning, we had a definite look in mind and when all the elements came together, it was exactly what we wanted – beautiful, elegant and worthy of the huge team effort”.
Director of the Museum of Islamic Art, Aisha Al Khater, comments "The Yusuf Islam concert was talked about all over Qatar as being truly spectacular. As the first major international concert to be held at the Museum of Islamic Art Park, the bar has been set very high, and I very much look forward to collaborating with Kenkaato on making the forthcoming series of concerts a major attraction to Doha's cultural landscape."
For more press info. on Kenkaato, please contact Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679 or +44 (0)7831 329888, or Email [email protected]', Contact Kenkaato direct on +971 (0)50 519 9707 or +974 5598 5516.