The opening of an alcohol-free Saudi nightclub was halted on Thursday as authorities claimed it violated legal proceedings.
White nightclub, which operates as a licensed venue in Dubai and Beirut, was scheduled to open a pop-up ‘halal’ branch in Jeddah, but was shut down by authorities ahead of the arrival of its headline act, American singer-songwriter Ne-Yo.
The brand is one of several operated by Dubai-based Addmind Hospitality Group, which runs venues including Indie restaurant and lounge, Italian kitchen Matto, rooftop lounge Iris, Drai’s beach club and many more.
Its CEO Tony Habre told Arabian Business in April that White would open in Saudi Arabia as a “high-end café”.
However, the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment said in a tweet that the event “had not been licensed” and was “a violation of legal proceedings”.
It said it had agreed to a different event and that its contractor had “taken advantage” of an extension of that license to commit “unacceptable violations”.
The nightclub had received mixed reviews from Saudis prior to its opening, with some condemning its dancefloor, and others welcoming its ‘halal bar’.
Habre said in April that Addmind is finalising a café version of its Iris lounge in Jeddah, adding that the rooftop venue will play music and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“We’re finalising the Iris café for Jeddah. It will be a café and lounge with music and breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s also a rooftop, outdoor and indoor, and a very interesting concept for the Jeddah market, which is growing, and they have great concepts opening there too,” he said.
“The Saudi market will be great, because the local community goes out a lot. You have people in the country who go out a lot,” he added.
Tickets to White Jeddah were priced between 500 ($134) to 1,000 Saudi riyals. The nightclub welcome a smart casual attire and visitors above the age of 18.
Artist Ne-Yo, whose famous for hits ‘Closer’ and ‘Miss Independent’, apologised to his fans in the kingdom on Thursday in an Instagram post, stating, “Apologies to the people of Jeddah. On the way to the venue, I was informed it had been shutdown. Guess we’ll try it again another time. Much love to my folks at White”.
Addmind was not available for comment at the time this article was published.