On The Zade Dirani Concert

I didn’t intend to blog about this as I was invited to go but preferred to spend my Thursday night more lucratively, especially with all that branding that eventually just turned me off on the whole event. However, due to the misadventures of a few friends who begged me to blog about it, I feel pretty much compelled to portray their experiences and those of many others. I wish I was there simply to have documented it visually and mentally.

So apparently, the Roman theater only seats around 5,000 people and whatever organizing company that was involved had handed out 8,000 tickets, leaving several hundred people stranded outside and turned away at the door. Great. This isn’t the first time we see something like this in Jordan. Why do people even have tickets if its a free gig?

Anyways, it took about an hour to get to the theater given the fact that it was a Thursday night and the crowds’ numbers had really caused a traffic jam. Then, apparently, the concert started nearly two hours late. These two points alone had me thanking God I found something better to do that Thursday night

Now here’s the part I found pretty interesting and it was told to me by several people, which both shocked me and made me laugh simultaneously in that it-could-only-happen-in-Jordan sort of way. Apparently, with so many people in attendance, the valet parking guys simply gave up and left, leaving behind hundreds of car keys on the ground. According to what I heard from a number of people, crowds of valet parkers converged on the ground to go looking for their car keys.

Like I said before…

Only in Jordan

(maybe Zimbabwe)


  • I wish you had stuck to your original intention of not writing about this. Seeing the Roman Theatre so beautifully set and having a Jordanian young man the star leading an event full of musical giants is enough to make us all proud. With all the high profile events that Jordan has managed to attract, I guess the term “only in Jordan” is now taking on a new meaning. Sorry but I really felt offended reading such a negative second hand account about an event that made me feel so proud of a young person who has worked so hard to make this event happen, a young person who promises to take the beautiful face of Jordan and showcase it all over the world.

  • Sam: i’m taking it regional 😉

    Tallouza: with all due respect, but this is what blogging and blogs are all about: portraying the other perspective that doesn’t necessarily conform with the mainstream. to have one perspective and one take on a subject and say this is the “official” view and no others can be accepted defeats the purpose of blogging and defeats the purpose of free speech. Be they negative or positive perspectives.

    Moreover, I have my own personal qualms with regards to idolizing various figures and adopting people as ambassadors and spokespeople for a country, especially when the majority of its population have no clue who he or she is and what they represent. A statement like: “a young person who promises to take the beautiful face of Jordan and showcase it all over the world,” is perhaps a bit too exaggerated for my taste.

    but that’s what comments on blog posts are all about 😀


    p.s. for you and all the zade-lovers out there, i have nothing against the guy and even acknowledge his talent. this post was about the organization of the event and not his musical abilities 😉

  • Nas , You should listen to people like Tallouza and stop your dissenting! You need to get in line and join the masses …..how dare you criticize anything Jordanian?!

  • Thank you!! I got a VIP ticket, was there on time, but never the less had to sit on the floor which btw could’ve been more pleasant if I was listening to Rum for example. I sort of had to stay instead of want to.

    I’m not trying to put anyone down, I had a lovely evening, and it was great to see a young Jordanian talent for the first time. But I honestly expected more from the concert considering the trouble we’ve gone through and the presentation of the whole event as part of an International tour that carries Jordan’s message of peace and tolerance. I’m not a musician, but in my humble opinion it wasn’t good enough for that.

  • everything you said about the organization of the concert is so true!
    it could have been better.
    But ZADE put a nice show for the audience!
    i enjoyed it!

  • Bad organization is the second name of any event down town. Although I am sad for the way in which people were teated badly by valet parking guys I think they deserve it. I am still not able to understand the meaning and need for valet parking. For ages we have parked our cars 500 m outside the event and walked and then got out safely. It is just another Ammani show off system which is not needed at all.

  • I hate valet, I hate giving my car keys to some random stranger, I hate waiting around for an hour to get my car back, I hate having to look around for change to give the guy. Perhaps this will encourage people to make some initial extra effort to park their own cars like they do all over the world.

  • To me, the real question is how much are these problems you described really solely attributed to the ‘organizing company’ and how much are they attributed to the workings of society at large?

    My parents and grandmother arrived well before time, as one should do for a concert or any event for that matter, they parked their car and walked (no valet), they got the seats they booked for, and had a ‘sensational, phenomenal’ evening. The only thing that bothered them is the delay in starting, but they said they heard it was due to the huge crowds outside.

    So my question is, would this have happened if everyone arrived before time, parked their cars themselves, and stood respectably in a queue for their turn?

    From my ‘brief’ experience working in PR in Amman, I know that no matter how organised you are, and how well organised your event is, the outcome always rests on the people themselves. On the plus side, I am glad to see so many Jordanians interested in attending cultural events.

  • I arrived at 7.15, as the concert declared 7.30.
    Parked at the raghadan square.
    Walked and got in smoothly and seated to my preference in the theatre “upper mid”.
    Got out after the concert in 15 minutes.

    The ugly side was the delay from 7.30 to 8.45 when they started and lost the first half of Germany’s match 🙂

  • Well, it is so funny seeing how different opinions could be about one event. well i was there, and i jus loved it.. of course, i hated everything that happened before and after (parking and valet problems, and even the fact that i had a fans invitation and i ended at the very top of the theatre)

    as for dirani’s talent.. well he was my school mate.. the guy is really talented and has been composing since really young. I remember him composing pieces for talent shows at school. you cant ignore the fact that he truly has the talent and the touch.. and that he is doing great. and yes i am very proud of him.. usually, and this applies to me, people have talents but they just ignore them. Zade decided not to ignore it and even go with it for higher levels.

    The organizing of the event is the only talk for people about the concert. even newspapers are only mentioning how bad the organizing of the oncert was and no one mentioned how great zade and the london orchestra were.. in my opinion, they did a GREAT job.

    I just felt obligated to say my opinion here 🙂

  • I hope it doesn’t happen to me. I’m going to one of the concerts in the Jordan festival in a couple of weeks. Selling more tickets than seats is highway robbery.

  • Guys, wither it was in Jordan or Egypt, I was setting my expectaions rights when attending a free concert in the middle of the downtown. The music was great and worth it, the attendees were pleasent as well, but it was very disorganized. The concert started at 8:30 (1 hour late) which is very norm in jordan and across the middle east. As for the Valet, we waited like 30 minutes for our car but what I knew that people had to go looking for their cars and car keys, but I dont know if the valet guys left the scene of the crime!! haha

  • I agree with you Nas..the guy is talented, but the organziation planned the event poorly..like you said, it took me one hour to get there, and i only saw ONE valet guy. the policemen at the gate treated us like dirt, even though we had gotten there before the concert started or before zade did! they refused to let us and people from the media in, and of course the people at the gates who actually had tickets were outnumbered by guys in downtown amman who were seeking to have their free looks at women going to the concert. it was quite annoying. people argued with the policemen,who were extremely rude by the way, and got sick of waiting so eventually left. after my experience, i woudnt bother going to such an event next time.

  • Frankly, I think the event was way overblown, and talking about a “Jordanian talent” of this nature insults the myriad of talents that we actually do have in this country. Let us forget the extremely slick production values, and all the money spent on getting some first-rate musicians and concentrate on the music, which was by and large boring, repetitive, and cheesy. I too know Zaid from my school days, and even though his compositions are OK, they do not rise above that, and certainly do not warrant the reputation he has skillfully built for himself. That the Roman Amphitheatre was filled pretty much to capacity is an extremely impressive feat, but the fact remains that the core of the matter was hot air. When you compare the muzac of Zaid with Jordanian luminaries like Karim Said (a superb pianist on the cusp of an international career), or Saa’ed Haddad (a truly excellent composer) and then compare the reception these people have received with the spectacle of last Thursday it makes one want to give up on Jordan entirely. I personally gave up on Jordan musically a long time ago. This was merely confirmation.

  • Nader, why give up? One person’s success is not mutually exclusive to other people’s success. There’s room for everybody. I met Zaid here in LA a couple of times and we chatted about our goals in life and all that. What I really liked about him was his optimism and drive. The guy really believes in his dream. He understands that half the equation is the presentation when it comes to pop-culture. He brought together a great group of musicians to participate in his event. That kind of leadership counts for a lot. Whether the music is brilliant or not is up to the masses. Nothing will ever please everyone. But certainly Britney Spears was a huge success for what she represents. I personally loath Kenny G, but many people love him. So what I’m saying is that there’s room for all these other musicians to showcase their talent and be successful. You don’t have to give up on Jordan because of someone else’s success. That’s really defeatist, don’t you think? Don’t look at what other people are doing. Just do your thing and let your talent shine.

  • It seems that offense was taken even though no offense was intended. My apologies if it did. All I was trying to say is that let’s give credit where credit is due and let’s make sure that it does not get diluted due to factors that are beyond the artist’s control. I did not go to the concert because I can’t handle crowded places. However, on an on and off basis I was in on the planning of the event since months ago (out of pure support – no gain out of it whatsoever). Zade worked really hard on putting this show together. The level of passion and professionalism he showed was truly exemplar. He really poured his heart out to bring this show to life. It is a pity to see all this hard work shrouded by the incompetence of the organizers and the lack of qualified resources in events management in Jordan.

  • I have attended the concert, it was great, I enjoyed every single minute I spent there, Zade is more than great and it was one of the moments I felt proud being Jordanian, when I see how much creative ppl we are and how is it possible for us to make a difference, I know deep down inside with all the difficulties surrounding us that we can survive and make it up to the end.

    Never mind, Thanx god I did not give my car to the Valet guys there, I parked my car myself on the parking 200 meters far from the theater and yes I agree there was no need for any valet service on that day, and the whole valet thing is a kind of showing off that I don’t like at all, by the way I had to wait for almost 30 minutes for some other guy who was blocking my way.

    I believe there were no tickets, I went to the good book shop at Jabal Amman and they gave 3 invitations just for free, as I remember I called Orange Red and the guy said it was free.

    I can say that Zade was great, maybe some more preparation and organization were needed, but I believe it was a good enough “you can’t get 100% perfection at the end”

  • Amin, whereas I realize that one person’s success is “not mutually exclusive” (well-written response, by the way), the fact remains that Zaid is billed as THE musical representative of Jordan to the world. Is it just me, or does that seem utterly insane? Mind you, Zaid has achieved exactly what he was after. He’s ambitious, smart, and most importantly extremely media-savvy. He managed to take what is essentially an inferior product and market it in such a way that it became the spectacle du jour, and that alone is a commendable, impressive feat, like I said in my previous post. One cannot question his dedication to what he does, but what one should question is the product that comes out. Besides, I personally know some of the musicians who participated in the event, and I can tell you that this was misuse of artists to the highest degree. He managed to take an ensemble of hardened pros like the London Phil and make them play lines that an amateur would be hard-pressed to take seriously.
    Now, what you say is true, regarding the decision about music’s quality, or art in general for that matter, lies with the masses, but the difference between Kenny G and Zaid is the following: Love of Kenny G exists in a continuum, where artists ranging from Von Karajan to Madonna to Kenny G to friggin’ Yanni can all exist, but no one would ever claim that Kenny G is “one of the leaders who are taking Jordan into the next century” or the American people’s “Cultural Ambassador”, or one of the many other lunatic labels that have been applied to Zaid and his music. Therein lies the issue, and once one sees the matter through that prism, and considers the buckets of money that were thrown on this project, all in the name of creating some cultural export that is supposed to represent the best of what Jordan has to offer, that is where one needs to give up.
    Finally, to the rest of the people who would say “good enough”, that dedication to mediocrity is what ensures that Jordan will remain exactly where it is, whether in art or any other field.

  • I find these blogs very interesting. It was started by someone who didn’t even attend the concert, yet had to complain. Then it is followed up by people who truly seem to be jealous.

    I feel sorry for you Nader, your responses sound very jealous. Were you an aspiring artist? Instead of running this guy down while he is trying to promote Jordan to the world and trying to promote the economy of our country, as well as ultimately give back to the people, why don’t you do something to help as well. You seem to be a smart individual why don’t you use that to do some good?

    You say you know some of the musicians? There was only one Jordanian other than Zade and I highly doubt that you are friends with the RPO or any of the other artists, unless you work at the hotel where they are staying, I doubt you are speaking the truth there.

    As for Zade being labeled “cultural ambassador” that title was given to him by the Jordanian Ambassador to the US, this isn’t self appointed. None of his titles are.

    I attended Rums concert last month and the concert was also free. It was also suppose to start at 8:00 and didn’t start until 8:50. Basically because people were still coming in, and continued to do so well after 9:00 pm after the shoe started. Extremely rude for any artist. As we all know, Jordanians like to show up late, and with this event if you were late you didn’t get in. They held the show for as long as they could and once the Royals showed up the military shut the gates, NO ONE got in. End of story. If you were later than the Royals then you didn’t get in. This is not the organizers fault or that of Zades.

    Nader you say “that dedication to mediocrity is what ensures that Jordan will remain exactly where it is, whether in art or any other field.” Nader it is people like you, your jealousy and your negative attitude that keeps this statement alive. I think you could learn something from Zade and from the people who truly wish for a better Jordan.

  • Hala, I have to say that I find your response extremely childish. You automatically assume that criticism implies jealousy, and as for whether I am an aspiring artist, you can rest assured that my credentials as a musician and artist far outweigh Zaid and his music. I hate doing this and “pulling rank”, but since you wish to criticize based on no information, let me enlighten you: as for your belief that I don’t know anyone from the RPO unless I worked in their hotel, you would be interested to know that not only have I worked with members of the RPO, but I have also worked with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, and Philadelphia Orchestra to name a few, and I have shared the stage with artists such as Bono, Youssou N’Dour, and a litany of other artists that I am sure you would not know, both as soloist and member of an orchestra. I have played in Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall in Chicago, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Philharmonia in Berlin, the Barbican in London, and many other halls across Europe, the US, and Asia.
    Interestingly, the people that I know were in the ensemble that was not orchestral, even though my purview is an orchestral musician, but I digress.
    More importantly than this silly squabbling and muscle-flexing, I think that I AM after a better Jordan, the only difference is a matter of standard. You seem to believe that what you heard the other day was good music, and something that would lead to a better Jordan. My point is that this is exactly what will not lead to a better Jordan, especially when music of this quality is not only exhibited but even showcased. And as for your idea that Zaid’s titles are not self-inflicted, you’re correct. However, he is certainly featured in many events that a royal or other Jordanian entity wishes to put on, as a representative of the country, to the exclusion of other far more deserving artists. Shouldn’t we at least feature music that is more original, more interesting, and hell, more representative of what this country has to offer, instead of Muzac that you would hear in Cosmo while shopping for laundry detergent?
    People who have nothing to say about an argument always will attack the person who gives the argument itself. Before you tell me to learn something from Zade, perhaps it would be good if you could take a look at the merits of my argument, detached from the person who proposed it in the first place. That is a lesson in debate worth learning, instead of attacking me personally, without having any clue about myself or my credentials.

  • Hi All,

    I appreciate all the opinions hereabove,

    I am proud to be one of the Organizors team in this event that happened for the 1st time in Jordan regardless of the minimal problems that happened caused by some attendees that didn’t bother to even look and read the tickets to ensure joy for them and the rest of the attendees.

    The idea of providing tickets for free was to secure full theatre for the TV shots which is the main goal of this concert.

    We didn’t announce tickets were free to ensure that attendence is open only for those who are interested in the music.

    We have destributed more VIP tickets that seats allowed with specific terms but most VIP guests did not at all act as VIPs to deserve their tickets.

    In several consecutive meetings, we had made arrangements of Parking spaces and Shuttle service, drop off and pick up points. but due to the attendance of members of the Royal family, Security had changed the whole plan and blocked many of the parkings, Gates, drop off and pick up points.

    For those who had VIP tickets and didn’t get there seats, I can say VIP are the ones who had ruind the whole organization. Only VIPs and VVIPs were requested to RSVP in order to confirm their attendance and seats, Only 21 VIP persons have confirmed in return which made us destribute more Fans and Audience invitations. VIPs did not only ignore RSVP process, but they also came late to the site expecting that the seats will be just waiting for them. All who had arrived before or by 715 got good seats and smooth service, the problems mentioned above were only caused by late arrivals after then and spoilt the evening of many others.

    And to be fair with the Valet, we had over 1000 people who were stranded outside and couldn’t attend, those came back within less than 30 mins to claim back their car key’s while the Valet was still preparing the keys on the board for over than 3000 received cars. One of the good people came and hit the board to the ground, you can emagine what happened next.

    On behalf of the organizors team, I say thanks for all who had attended and respected the terms of attendance that were clearly printed on those large tickets and sencere apologies for those who intended to attend and couldn’t or those who didn’t have the chance to obtain their tickets.

    NAS: FYI
    The maximum capacity of the theatre is 6600 people and we have accommodated about 7500 people inside.

    On behalf of the Organizors team, I bid thanks to those who had attended and enjoyed and sencere apologies to those who intended to join the event but couln’t and mostly those who faced problems with the Valet parking service.


  • Meemo: thank you for the response and I’m sure everyone who has read or commented on this post appreciates you taking the time to formulate a reply.

    That being said…

    If the concert is free, why have “fan tickets”, VIP tickets and VVIP tickets? What was the point of having tickets in the first place to a free event?

    Secondly, if you know the theater only seats 6600, why accomodate for 7500? I’ve been to several events there and it always seems overcrowded to the extent of it being dangerous.

    Third, while I love the roman theater and can appreciate the physics behind its capacity, perhaps for a concert of this magnitude, with this many people expected to attend, with royal family members attending, with it being free….perhaps it should’ve been done in an open-space venue like concerts are done in other countries. Keeping in mind that it’s the balad, which is usually full, and that its a thursday night, which makes the balad even more full…why bring 7,500 people with their cars if there’s no way to fully accommodate them, especially valet-wise?

    these are the questions that were on my mind.

  • “The idea of providing tickets for free was to secure full theatre for the TV shots which is the main goal of this concert.”
    And there I was believing the main goal was to make art more accessible to the public.
    How silly of me.

  • First I would like to commend you Nader for your insightful artistic look at what I’ve been thinking about for a while since the concert. You put it in perfect context.

    In a discussion with a cynical friend of mine we discussed his prowess at using the media to hype his music and image to higher levels. Even spelling his name unconventionally as Zade rather than the usual Zaid. (We funnily remembered the singer Sade which we know to be pronounced as Shadé as in french. Does that mean he would rather be called Zadé too?!)

    I have through recent research discovered so many hidden talents in this country that are truly worthy of support. Here I would like to learn from Zadé and his self promotion prowess.
    Why do we to this day not have foundations that are mainly concerned with discovering these hard working true artists in our community? To publicize them properly and provide them with the means to create and promote their efforts as Zadé so aptly does?

    On a humerous side I tend to discover that most of the “true talents” that exist here musically tend to drive really old cars that have stood the test of time. That is if they have a car to start with! So….I tend from now on to collaborate with musicians with cars that are hanging on by a thread rather than ones that arrive in plush limos. Cheapening art to a spectacle that only stands because of fireworks and light shows is something that I abhore. They turn music, even if it is of any artistic value, into a Haifa Wahbeh debauched attempt in public performance. I don’t think that the Berlin Philharmonic plays under laser light shows. God forbid that we would need more than their exceptional performances in an acoustically near to perfect venues to showcase their grandeur!

    Kudos to Zade for what insight he brought me about the power of media hype, image management and exposure opportunities. Perhaps we should start encouraging the creation of foundations to support artists with musical credentials judged by suitably educated and well informed critics.

    As for Valet….Again….most Noteworthy musicians in this country have no cars worthy of Valet parking. I think they prefered to stay home and work on their music rather than their image. Sadly….It is only them that tend to give Jordan the rare seal of artistic credibility when they are supported by international cultural exchange programs paying for tickets and hotel stays around the world for them to showcase their works of distinct musical genius. Sadder even when they have to make money working in menial jobs to support themselves financially and when ask for time off to make those journeys abroad, salaries are deducted. I applaud these martyrs. May we one day have the decensy to give credit where credit is truly due.

  • Dear Nas,

    Thanks again for your kind comments

    Although the replies to your queries were already mentioned in my blog but i may not have been clear in specifying them, please see below;

    Free tickets: In production business (TV & movie shots) we sometimes pay people to act as backgrowned for the image and shots. In this case, attendance was offered for free for people (especially those interested in the music) to enjoy a magical night with the music and performace.

    Since the main goal was securing full theatre (backgrowned) we offered all tickets for free. otherwise we would have received half theatre instead which would have ruind the whole image.

    Moreover, Zade wanted a party for the locals who could not afford attending such concerts.

    Ticket types:
    Fans : Zade again wished to have the fans nearest to him, sit around him and since they most know his music, he wished to honour his fans and give them the best chance to interact with him and his music.
    VIPs: we have received huge support from a lot of organizations, i.e: Amman Municipality, Royal Jordanian, Ministry of tourism….etc. those were to be seated as close as possible and around the Royalty
    Public invitations: Covering the rest of the theatre as general invitation to everyone interested to attend the concert

    VVIPs, princess Haya, wished to invite people personally with her name, and those should be seated around the Royaly.

    Although I protested a lot on using the Theatre, and have preferred Jerash instead giving the same theme. The producers and ZAde wanted Amman and the view it gives over Amman to Show Jordan is not only some ruins and Deser, they wanted to show houses and civilization.
    By all means, we did not expect all these people would show up, we were expecting less than 30% of the VIP tickets to show up, surprizingly they all did?!?

    Valet, I promise I will never ever use valet service in such events, we will only provide empty parking space and security to make sure people park in organized lanes. NO MORE VALET

    Wanas: the spelling Zade was given to him by the American because they couldn’t ever spell his name right as Zaid. Some named him Za’id and others expected it might be spelled Za3id …..etc.
    The only way to make the Americans spell zaid as zaid was to write it Zade

    I hope I have covered all the points
    Please feel free to let me know should you have any further comments or queries


  • Deena.

    YOu are not at all silly in that,

    Actually Zade was offered to sell the green tickets rather than just destibute them for free, but his answer was always ” No This is my chance to do something for the public and give a chance to those who cannot afford such concert to come and attend, we will offer all for free).
    You may understand if tickets were sold for only 5 JDs they would have made lot of money but zade wanted free for all. ALL the public interested in the music.

    And I assure you, this had always been Zade’s concern and main goal. but the production’s view was just the general image and the backgrowned.


Your Two Piasters: