Leila’s Down The Road

As you might know already, my absence is a reflection of loads of work.

I’ve been working real hard on this “surprise project” I’ve been keeping from all of you.

Following the London Grammar gig, Vincenti’s wife called me up, announcing she needs me on her project.
So I’ll be doing this one with Clapping Hands at the Casino du Liban in February: The Sound Of Music.
If you’re a fan of musicals, the movie, or just music… there are nine shows in February for this great musical from the UK.

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Apart from that, I met up with Mashrou’ Leila’s manager, Karim, and they’re testing me out in their upcoming tour this November. If it works out well, that will be my door to the roadies, as they call them. It was the next step for me, something I’ve been searching for, for at least a year. And well, it’s here. Let’s hope I don’t screw it up so I’ll get more to come. The team is nice, respectful and focused. My kind of “colleagues”, it’s a good start.

Finally, we shot a campaign with some friends for 4 a Cause. It’s a different approach to raise awareness about our local causes, given that we’ve only focused these last two years on events.

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Closer & After

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The closer we got to event day, the latter we worked on site.
This was not specific to this event. And I don’t think it’s specific to this job either.

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Being on site as the night fell, watching the immensity of the venue under the warm night sky of Al Ain gave me a certain serenity.
It is during after hours and on ground that you realize how dedicated you are to the success of a project.
It is also at night when all is calm, and the project is so big that you are reminded how small you are but how big of an impact you can have. This is not about work, it’s about how fierce you can be.

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The planes slept quietly in their hangars. Neatly put away.
The food court was ready and clean.

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The grandstands and tents were standing tall under the stars.
The runway was empty and endless.
The staff was hardworking.

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photo 3-1I witnessed the build of the 16m swing today.

It’s not done yet, but it’s interesting to see five men building it under your eyes from scratch.

They had two days to finish it.
They started at night.

It would be mind blowing to see them finish on time.

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Carts, Food and Sounds

photo 2-7WE FINALLY GOT WIFI !

Today was extremely crowded on the site.
Not that much, but more than usual.
Arrived at the office on site, and found 3 electrical golf carts parked there.
And… I won’t have to walk on site anymore. Even though, the exercice was kind of good on this gigantic space.

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Food Court was operating today. Workers, crew and suppliers were enjoying nice meals on their breaks.
Ticketmaster set up their box offices’ system, thanks to the running power and the internet.
I still need to sort out the lane system with them tomorrow.
A landscaping team was arranging white stones in airplane shapes  at the entrance. Some plants here and there too.
Saw Bob from the Delta Sound crew today. Was nice seeing a familiar face. I worked with him on the Byblos Festival this summer. Great guys, cool company.

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photo 1-7Had some time to catch up on these maps I have to hand out to the team.
That was before I heard some loud plane noises.

Stepped outside a bit … flips, speed, smokes and figures in the air.
The pilots were rehearsing.
It was astonishing!

Apart from that, we did play a fun game of hiding from the police who keep asking for free VIP tickets.

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Small Bumps

In this line of work, you need to keep your head up and your vibes positive.
It’s either that or you get tired real fast.
Un-necessary efforts, changes and work are to be avoided.
Attitude, ego and complexes are to be left at the entrance.
Some people tend to forget that and bring disrespect on the way too.

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Oh, lovely people.

This is my 7th day on site.
The internet is a problem. The dungles are really slow or just emptied in an hour because dropboxes on devices weren’t paused. The wireless lines are not yet installed.
We can’t really get mails through or any paperwork done because of that.

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photo 1-2On the other side, some suppliers arrive late, as we’re about to leave site. That’s another thing to add to the Pickle List.
So waking up every day at 6 am is kind of illogical to me if I arrive three hours before any work can be done, given the fact that the internet is not ready, and I only start when the ground work starts.


I’m a firm believer that every second of our time is valuable. So wasting three hours or more every day is starting to get on my nerves.


On the same list today, we added let’s-lose-two-hours-or-three-and-evacuate-everyone-and-let’s-be-behind-schedule because a Sheikh airplane was landing on the other runway in the Airport. We were on a closed down site, away from the landing, still active, airport runway, but the “paranoid” authority insisted on us kicking everyone out so that VIP plane can land.

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photo 4-3On the bright side, we went to the terminal and were able to get some work done with the cafe internet there.
More planes were brought in and built. I got a quick look at the insides of the royal falcons’ planes. Amazing structures.

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Branding started today too. So all in all, the event village is looking good. More structures, activations, exhibition zones and food court… You can all just visualize it now.

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The Airport Site

photo 3Today’s my official first “work day” on site. Yesterday was just to get acquainted.

Compared to the sites I’ve worked before, this is like 10 times bigger. It’s more professional too.
Workers and suppliers are more organized. In some way.

Wicked tents, big container rooms, nice on site offices, one dome, huge grandstands and runways… Plane runways.

Working on an airport site is proving to be a bit of a pickle though.
We can’t get our laptops or cameras in without a letter that takes a few days to be issued. We get searched every day at the entry, which is fine and standard, we’re just not used to it.
It also would be less annoying if we could take our laptops in at once, since we need them for work.

The security forces are giving us a hard time, getting in suppliers, permits… just because they can. Feels like kindergarten when we actually have to call their supervisor to put them back in place.
A lot of misunderstandings and missed appointments from suppliers are getting on the team’s nerves. But I think starting tomorrow, it’ll all kick in faster. It has to anyways.
I’m taking care of the power situation on site, since the people on the team here don’t understand arabic, and that thing has been going back and forth for quite a while. We should have power tomorrow. Hopefully.

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Food booths are here, starting to set up.
Waking up at 6 am and getting to work until 5 pm feels like hell.
We thought it was 3 pm when it was only 11 am. The days are gonna be long.