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Culture

The Power of Acceptance


By Haya Shaath

September 03 2022

Culture

The Power of Acceptance


By Haya Shaath

September 03 2022


Radical acceptance and inclusion have been a core part of the underground music scene. The dance floor has historically been a great equalizer – the only prerequisite for attending is the love of music and the love of connection. This philosophy still rings truer than ever in today's international music community – now with even more diversity in expression, beliefs and perspectives. And yet, when MDLBEAST showed up to the scene – we were tagged with and forced to continuously defend the stereotypes that are infamously synonymous with where we're from: Saudi Arabia. 

Our country  is undergoing a massive social and cultural transformation – predominantly led by a youth population ready to shake off old ways of being. For the past few years, we've made some noise with two editions of Soundstorm – the region's largest music festival, a music conference set to build the region's music industry infrastructure, and a record label signing local and regional talent. Our efforts to nurture the music industry are amplified when we work with experts from the global music industry – this takes acceptance, understanding and a holistic view of our narrative. This is only the beginning of our ride – we've come a long way, and still have a way to go. 

In late April of this year, a few of us from the MDLBEAST team made our way to the International Music Summit in Ibiza – a seminal gathering for the electronic music scene. We all came to build genuine connections; inviting the community to meet us with an open mind about who we are, where we're from and what we're all about.

To everyone's delight, we were indeed welcomed and accepted. We had open and honest conversations on the sidelines of the conference; creating shifts in people's perspectives about what we represent. At a time when "cancel culture" is a prevailing stance in Western societies – we are very conscious of the stereotypes that bind us, and the predominant media narrative that could lead us to being canceled. What we've found is that these misconceptions actually drive us to work with utmost authenticity and integrity.

Beyond sideline conversations and connections on the dance floor – we were invited for a facilitated conversation at the shesaid.So space. Nada Alhelabi, Head of Strategy & XP Music Futures, Nedda Akhonbay, PR & Comms Lead, and José Woldring, Founder of The Media Nanny – discussed the challenges we face and opportunities we have as Saudi women in the music scene, and the future of the music and creative industry in Saudi. IMS and the Ibiza community were hospitable in giving us spaces to share our voices and sounds, demystify misconceptions about Saudi society, and specifically the music industry. On the weekend, two of our local legends, Baloo and Biirdperson were invited to the decks of the famous Mambo Cafe. Thank you to the Mambo team – namely the founder, Javier Anadón, and his sons – Christian and Alan (The Mambo Brothers) – who are no strangers to MDLBEAST; they recorded an epic set for Freqways, and came to Soundstorm 2021. Baloo was also back on the decks at Bora Bora – wherever we went, we had dance floors buzzing, smiles plastered and guards dropped. Ibiza is the ultimate haven for openness and building bridges – a model for how communities can shape the essence of a destination. Beyond that, our time on the island was an affirmation that artists are the true ambassadors of Saudi's music scene. 

During Nada Alhelabi's talk at IMS, she reiterated the magnitude of the moment we're in –  "We believe we've been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to build an industry from the ground up, and learn from the global music industry." At MDLBEAST we place talent at the heart of everything we do – building around their needs to enable them to showcase their sound to the world. True empowerment and inclusion is really what we're about and we do it by giving platforms and spaces to Saudi youth to express and experiment. 


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