If you’re living and working in the Middle East, you might not have heard of Pop Up Global yet. However, according to the company’s Managing Director, Amy Morris, that won’t be the case for much longer. “We want to be the company that creates bespoke entertainment for a variety of sectors throughout the Middle East, from retail to awards, to cruise ships, hotels, and theatres,” she stated confidently. “There’s a huge gap in the market for what we do. We are aiming to develop an incredibly diverse portfolio and judging by what we’ve seen in our short time in Dubai so far, there’s no reason why we won’t be able to achieve that.”
Pop Up launched in the UK in 2014 and it has since earned a reputation for its fresh, imaginative approach to entertainment, creating full-scale production shows to a West End and Broadway standard from scratch. “We don’t have a roster of acts – our creations are always on a bespoke basis, including choreography, vocal arrangements, musical direction, costume and set design, as well as sound and lighting design,” Morris explained.
After runaway success in the UK, the company recently made the move to expand into the Middle East, opening a branch in Dubai – a place where Morris has long had ambitions to call home. “Dubai is where I always wanted to be,” she told TPiMEA. “There are lots of fantastic opportunities in the UAE and the wider GCC, and nobody in the region is doing what we do to the standard that we do it.”
The Dubai adventure has already started with a bang, as Pop Up signed one of the UAE’s largest holding companies, Majid Al Futtaim, as its first client in the region. “We are going to be providing entertainment across Majid Al Futtaim facilities throughout the GCC,” Morris revealed. “It’s a full-scale delivery, 365 days a year, and that has given us a fantastic platform to set up in the region.”
So far, the Managing Director has enjoyed the business landscape in Dubai. “It’s not like Dubai has unlimited budgets, but there’s certainly a willingness to invest to have the best,” she reported. “Everyone has been very open to meeting with us. People generally are happy to help, whether that’s through making connections or giving recommendations.”
While Morris has no doubt about the hunger for high-quality theatrical experiences in the region, one challenge she believes Pop Up will have to overcome is the development of a large local talent pool.
“The entertainment here isn’t yet at the required level to attract the world’s best performers, but as the scene develops and more and more top-quality theatrical productions take place in the region, the talent pool will begin to grow,” she hypothesised. “Our aim is to create the kind of great shows that draw the world’s top talent to Dubai. The goal in 10 years is for the region to be a hub of the best people in the industry, but we first need to put on great entertainment to attract them.”
As well as being in the process of opening a new Dubai studio, the company is currently on a recruitment drive, and recently held a casting day in Dubai with more than 160 participants. “The energy was great, and we had some exceptional performers,” Morris said of the day. “It was a good starting point to get a snapshot of what’s out there.”
One factor that is crucial to Pop Up’s success is the culture it cultivates within its employees – something driven by the fact that the people running the company are all former performers. “Our company culture attracts the best talent,” Morris stated. “Performers aren’t just a number – we couldn’t do what we do without them, and that is the ethos that we want to continue in Dubai.”
While it’s still early days in Pop Up Global’s Middle East expansion, with a rapid start including a planned summer of entertainment at Ski Dubai and another series of casting days, there’s every chance that Pop Up will be a name we’re all seeing a lot more of soon.
Photos: Pop Up Global