If you've been following Saudi Arabia - even just lightly - you probably noticed just how hyped up the kingdom is in growing its entertainment sector.
WHITE, a Dubai-based nightclub, is set to open in the Saudi city of Jeddah sometime this week, Serge Trad, Regional Communications Manager at Addmind Hospitality Group, the company that owns the brand, told StepFeed. The lounge will open seasonally as part of the Jeddah Season festival.
Addmind Hospitality Group also owns the lounge Iris, a popular rooftop among both Dubai and Beirut residents. The rooftop venue is also set to open in Jeddah soon, Tony Habre, Addmind's CEO told Arabian Business in April.
Trad told StepFeed the upcoming high-end café and lounge (WHITE) will open along the Jeddah Waterfront and will house various genres of music catering to different tastes. Fans of EDM, commercial music, RnB, and hip-hop will most likely enjoy the place.
A dancefloor will occupy some space at the upcoming lounge, and is open to both men and women, Trad confirmed to StepFeed.
WHITE's full concept will be integrated into the Jeddah franchise, minus the alcohol. The high-end café will not serve alcohol, pertaining to Saudi Arabia's laws and regulations. Consuming or selling alcoholic drinks is illegal in Saudi Arabia and violators are often subject to severe punishments including imprisonment and deportation.
If you've been to WHITE, you know all about the dress code, something most nightclubs in Dubai are strict about. In the case of Jeddah, the lounge's dress code is "smart-casual" and lounge-goers must be over 18 years of age.
The opening act of the lounge in the Saudi city will be none other than American singer Shaffer Chimere Smith, better known by his stage name Ne-Yo.
Footage of WHITE Jeddah have been making the rounds online
Some people are incredibly shocked
It's true that Saudi Arabia has been taking major steps to reform itself, but there are still many rules that occupy the space. Baby steps, right?
In recent months, several "mixed-gender" events took place in the kingdom, though some were shut down after failing to acquire the required licenses. Towards the end of last year, authorities in Jeddah shut down a local café after hosting a "loud mixed-gender party." Turns out, the café's owner did not acquire a government license to host a musical event, ultimately leading to the closure of the place.
In 2017, Mecca's governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal passed an order which states that any event featuring music, DJ performances, or live bands is considered illegal unless it's licensed by officials.
*Editor's Note: Following the release of this article, the venue had been shut down prior to Ne-Yo's performance. The latter confirmed that claim.