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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Bollywood playback singer Arijit Singh’s Dubai concert is a case of demand and short supply

As a testament to Arijit Singh's popularity, the show completely sold out within 10 days of tickets going on sale. But where does that leave fans who weren't fast enough to get their hands on tickets? We find out.
Arijit Singh will perform with London’s Grand Symphony Orchestra as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival’s Celebration Nights. Robin Little / Redferns via Getty Images
Arijit Singh will perform with London’s Grand Symphony Orchestra as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival’s Celebration Nights. Robin Little / Redferns via Getty Images

In 2013, Indian singer Arijit Singh hit all the right notes in just the third year of his playback-singing career, when his song Tum Hi Ho for the Bollywood film Aashiqui 2 topped the charts and helped the film achieve blockbuster status.

Singh’s January 15 concert with London’s Grand Symphony Orchestra is part of the Dubai Shopping Festival’s Celebration Nights. The show – the 28-year-old’s second UAE appearance after his MTV Unplugged concert at Dubai’s Hard Rock Cafe in January last year – sold out within 10 days of tickets going on sale and has become one of the most in-demand concerts among the South Asian expat community.

“We were hopeful that we would sell out, but we never anticipated doing it two weeks ahead of time,” says Renuka Singh, managing director of Raging Tiger Events. “People usually wait until the last minute to buy their tickets, scouting around for complimentary passes and only making purchases once the sponsor’s resources have been exhausted. This makes organisers apprehensive till almost the show day.”

While the sold-out show is great news for the organisers, fans who didn’t manage to get tickets aren’t as delighted.

Lakshmi Bharathy, an Indian finance professional based in Dubai, says she is heartbroken.

“I missed him in concert in India as well, so that’s why I really wanted to catch him this time. I don’t usually buy tickets too far in advance because they never get sold out so soon.”

Deviani Rao, a graphics designer, has a similar story: “I started looking for tickets a fortnight back and was shocked to see all the good seats were sold out.”

For Rao – who is about to turn 30 – the concert was going to be a birthday treat. “It’s killing me that I haven’t got tickets. I couldn’t have dreamed that I’d be missing out. I absolutely adore Arijit Singh. After attending his last couple of concerts I can just imagine how good this would be with the orchestra.”

Rozy Chaudhri, a British-Pakistani banking recruiter, is another fan left high and dry. “I am so unorganised when it comes to purchasing tickets for any concert, but I always manage to obtain even the most difficult tickets. I didn’t imagine I would encounter any problems this time. I can’t believe that tickets are completely sold out, and even with my network of connections I still can’t get them. I am shocked at the level of demand he has generated.”  

What’s more, the unprecedented demand has resulted in early buyers selling their tickets at a premium. At the time of writing this story, there were at least five advertisements on various local websites for the resale of tickets – all at very inflated prices.

Would any of the fans we spoke with consider buying these tickets? While Bharathy says no, Rao and Chaudhri say they would definitely consider it.

“This black market seriously concerns us,” says Renuka Singh. “People end up thinking that we are holding tickets that are then being sold at inflated prices. We also feel that the fans are being unfairly exploited.

“It’s because Arijit Singh is so popular,” she says. “He is a perfect mix of a romantic, soulful singer and hard-hitting rock star. He appeals to a younger and fresher audience, an audience that is more spontaneous and impulsive about buying tickets, plus the buzz on social media.”

• Arijit Singh Live in Dubai with the Grand Symphony Orchestra from London is at Sheikh Rashid Hall, World Trade Centre, on Thursday, January 15. Doors open at 7.30pm, concert begins at 9.30pm

artslife@thenational.ae