Spread across ten days — and more than a kilometre of Abu Dhabi’s corniche — the Mother of the Nation Festival (MOTN) celebrates, commemorates and honours the inspirational values of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.
Via a number of diverse activity zones, the festival again created an entertaining and highly interactive atmosphere, including educational activities, exhibitions and performance, inviting families and individuals from all walks of life to help preserve the Emirati heritage.
Based on their success in the inaugural year, Protec were again engaged to provide a comprehensive and fully integrated technology package — including rigging, and an array of backline from drum kits to keyboards — under the project management of James Lakin.
Working for Flash Entertainment on the Main Stage, his team faced considerable challenges, not only in reinforcing such a wide performance package, but in mitigating factors outside their control, notably the weather.
MOTN expanded to five different zoned areas this year: The Happiness Zone offered exhibits of art and exciting activities, inspired by HH Sheikha Fatima’s commitment to fostering future generations through initiatives in which they may learn and grow. Progress was dedicated to interactive experiences and installations, engaging visitors with innovative concepts. Beach Dining was located throughout the central stretch of the Festival, with the Food & Beverage Zone’s restaurants, food trucks and stalls providing visitors with flavours from the UAE and around the world. Pavilion provided a tribute to the accomplishments of the Mother of the Nation, and a reflection on the enduring legacy of HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. Finally, bridging international culture with the quintessential urban experience, The Souq offered visitors a traditional retail experience inspired by the rich heritage and cultural exchange.
For the Happiness Zone Protec were engaged by production company HQ Worldwide Shows, and were tasked with providing an array of illumination — uplighting the trees and giant flower sculptures, as well as one of the domes, the arts and crafts area and the Jeep tour. They also provided complementary sound reinforcement.
Main Stage lighting was specified by Flash International and was based largely around Clay Paky Prima Mythos, A.LEDA K20 B-EYE / A.LEDA K10 B-EYE and Prima Super Sharpy — all controlled by grandMA 2 Full Size and grandMA2 Lite desks.
The only changes from the original spec were that the Clay Paky Scenius Profile, originally assigned for front fillers, were redeployed as the stage floor package, while five Martin Atomic strobes were added to provide extra punch.
Protec provided a projection screen that filled the back of the stage, run in tandem with a pair of Christie Roadster HD 20K-J DLP projectors to deliver graphic content from logos, titles, sponsored video loops and information on what happening throughout the festival — as well as the Pokémon Orchestra, playing in sync to a video.
Protec’s audio department also fielded an L-Acoustics KARA, a decision justified by James Lakin, who stated: “Although it was a small audience area it still required very good audio quality.”
Also backing the decision to use KARA was head of audio design, Ed Ross. “Although the weight loading capacity was fairly low we still potentially needed to throw the sound a fair way for the bigger acts if it got busy on the beach,” he explained.
Protec provided a full monitor system and festival stage patch system going to a Digico SD5 for monitors and a Digico SD10 for FOH. “Because of the wide range of acts, we had a vast array of microphones on site and consequently lots of stage multicore cabling to allow flexible change overs,” he added.
Overall, 21 different artists appeared on the Main Stage over the duration of the Festival, each performing twice a day — making a total of 42 performances over the period. These ranged from a 56-piece orchestra to local jazz and pop bands.
However, the weather provided another unexpected challenge. “There were so many wet days during the set-up and the night before the opening we had wind speeds of 33 metres a second which provided a number of challenges site wide in the hours before the doors opened to the public,” explained Lakin.
To overcome the conditions they needed to bag all equipment every night and then unbag prior to the show. “This meant the projectors had to be realigned up every day, giving us only 20 minutes of darkness to do so before the event opened.”
And audio was not spared either. On the morning of the opening day some kit was damaged by water when the covering was ripped off by freak winds. Fortunately they were prepared, and had spares on site.
However, worst hit was the Happiness Zone as all equipment was exposed. Daniel Ivanovski, Protec’s Lighting Engineer, underlined the scale of the challenge in protecting the equipment from the driving rain — which penetrated far inside the roofed stage area — and buffeting winds. “Front of house and dimming/distro area had been covered with tarps held down with stage weights and ropes and the lighting fixtures that weren't under the roof were individually covered with plastic bags every night during the setup and first show days although the weather improved for the festival itself.” The same plastic bag procedure was applied for all lighting fixtures.
Summing up the event, James Lakin said, “All in all the team delivered a seamless show over some fairly difficult and unpredictable days. We managed to deliver on all fronts, which given the size of the site, and challenging weather conditions during the build-up, was no mean feat.”