What Happens in Jeddah Stays Online: Was the ‘halal disco’ shut down?
“I’ve heard they’re one of the best clubs … I don’t know what really happened,” one attendee told us.
As people in Saudi Arabia got overhyped over a big nightclub brand coming to one of their cities under a “high-end café” title, their excitement faded away soon after … as soon as the opening night, in fact.
WHITE, ranked 16th club worldwide, is one of the most popular nightclubs in Dubai (and previously in Beirut). Its arrival to Jeddah was astonishing and extremely hard to believe.
Saudi Arabia is known as the conservative kingdom with Islamic Sharia laws ruling its every decision, and so its approval of this opening – even though seasonal and restricted to Jeddah Season festival so far – came as a surprise.
But it wasn’t the only surprise. On the night of the opening, which was June 13, Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) released a statement in which it confirms the launch of an investigation in the case of violations pertaining to “Project X.”
“According to information provided to the GEA, the event (Project X) is in violation of the legal procedures and regulations in force, and has not been authorized by the body. GEA had originally issued a license for another event. Its contractor then took advantage of an extension of that license to commit these serious and unacceptable violations,” the statement read.
Publications reported the shut down of WHITE, saying the GEA’s statement was targeted at the notorious Dubai-based club. Our sources confirmed the lounge was ordered to close just an hour before Ne-Yo was set to appear, but that it wasn’t a matter of licensing, though the GEA gave no reason for its decision.
“Project X” is part of Jeddah Season festival, as the waterfront event is called X Jed and X Jeddah. Even though GEA mentioned the circulation of videos online – which first triggered the investigation – WHITE was never mentioned by name.
According to our sources, another event hosting international DJs took place before WHITE’s opening. People were taking photos and videos and, though not confirmed yet, the organizers didn’t have a license. This could’ve possibly been the reason behind WHITE’s closing, as the GEA probably needed to confirm the validity of other events’ licenses. But nothing is confirmed yet.
WHITE is known for its broad roster of international artists. It has hosted, on multiple occasions, singers and rappers like French Montana, Jason Derulo, Wiz Khalifa, Fetty Wap, Rick Ross, Nelly, and Tinie Tempah.
As for Ne-Yo, specifically, he’s previously worked with Addmind Hospitality Group – the company behind WHITE – more than once.
In anticipation of Ne-Yo’s act at WHITE, people gathered at the high-end café and lounge for hours, but to no avail.
“We came around 9 p.m. … the line was long. We were able to get in at 11 o’clock, so that’s a two-hour wait,” one attendee told StepFeed. They confirmed that the VIP area, the closest to the stage, was barely occupied by 15 people, while the general admission – which cost 380 riyals ($98) – was full and far from the stage.
Around 1:30 a.m., as the So Sick singer was on his way to WHITE for his show, GEA was already ordering the lounge to shut down the music and the whole venue, sources from the event told us.
“Everything was overpriced but nobody complained, people want to have fun, people want to enjoy the moment, everybody was truly disappointed,” another person at the opening told us.
Ne-Yo sent a message to his fans via an Instagram photo, in which he apologized for not being able to make it, saying “Guess we’ll try it again another time.”
No alcohol was served, just “overpriced water, which cost 30 riyals [$8]” as well as soft drinks. As for dancing, only people with tables were allowed to move. A few videos online showed some people secretly swaying.
Phones were locked in pouches so that no photography would take place. The dress code, on the other hand, was casual. Women wore fancy and modern abayas while men were in regular outfits, with only few in thawb.
“I’ve heard they’re one of the best clubs, maybe the management or organizers here … I don’t know what really happened,” a disappointed attendee told StepFeed, confirming they would still go to the Dubai branch regardless.
Will people be refunded? Yes.
Our sources confirmed that the organizers will be refunding the tickets of those who were in attendance since the American singer never made on stage.
As for the big question “Will WHITE open tonight?” the answer is yes.