The Oasis Festival in Morocco didn’t start out to become a luxury event. Founder Marjana Jaidi simply knew she wanted to create a destination festival that utilized the best aspects of events she’d covered in New York and across the United States.
Unlike some other destination festivals, Oasis has spent the last few years scaling its growth to ensure success. In its third year, the boutique festival has sold out its weekend passes for Sept. 14-17. Oasis, held seven miles outside of central Marrakech, will feature DJ headliners Marcell Dettman, Maceo Plex and Jackmaster, with sets from Anja Schneider and promising Belgian newcomer Charlotte De Witte.
Attendees can view the main stage while poolside at the festival’s resort location. The Source is a hotel complex nestled in the Atlas Mountains that overlooks the city of Marrakech. Electronic music lovers can also enjoy morning yoga and henna tattoos while local vendors will be supplying Moroccan cuisine including traditional street food, fresh produce and sfinge, a unique regional donut.
Amplify caught up with Jaidi to discuss why she started a destination festival and how she has grown Oasis over the past few years.
Reporting on other festivals what were some things you knew you wanted at your event?
I’ve picked up bits and pieces of inspiration from different events. Flow Festival in Helsinki takes place in a sort of village/power plant, and I liked how the festival’s restaurants, stages, and spaces took place within the existing structures; it made the festival feel very civilized. They also had a champagne bar – which is my personal drink of choice and a rarity at festivals, so that’s where I got the idea to include one at Oasis.
Outside Lands in San Francisco was another influence – they do an amazing job of embodying the city of San Francisco through the food, activities, and decor, and I wanted to do the same with Oasis.
What are some things you learned not to have?
Oasis was originally conceived as a multi-venue event, in a similar vein to The BPM Festival or Miami Music Week, but when I started scouting venues, it didn’t seem like the right fit for Marrakech. I wanted the venue to make people feel like they actually traveled to Morocco for the festival, and I didn’t think it was worth flying to Morocco just to party in a nondescript club. This change completely altered the format and concept of the festival.
Why do a destination festival?
I grew up in New York, but I’m half Moroccan, and I’ve spent every summer of my life there, so the original idea was always to do a festival in Morocco. I attended my first international festival, Øya in Oslo, because I had received a press release with a lineup too good to pass up. I thought it was very powerful that music could inspire me to travel to a place I’d never considered before. Since that trip, I’ve always approached my work, both with Cultivora (the website I had before Oasis) and Oasis with the mission of using music to inspire people to travel. Cultivora’s tagline was “mobilized by music,” and Oasis’ is “dance somewhere different.” Part of our mission is to attract people to Morocco that may not have otherwise considered traveling there.
What is special about the location?
Marrakech is a fresh, exotic destination that makes for an exciting change from what’s already out there, in terms of festival destinations. There’s a lot of history and culture there, so for people coming from abroad, it gives them something worthwhile to explore, outside the festival.
An important aspect of our concept is to represent the culture of Morocco in our programming. Morocco isn’t just a location for us, it’s the heart and soul of the festival, and we’re lucky to have such a rich and exciting culture to draw from. This is reflected in everything from the food and decor to programming like henna body art or the hookah bar.
What is the number one thing you think people will take away from the event?
It’s hard to say, because everyone will experience the festival differently. People come for different reasons and want different things out of the event.
What are some of the key factors to throwing a successful and stable luxury event?
I don’t know if I can make a general statement about luxury, because the idea of luxury means different things to different people. For some, it’s all about flash – yachts and bling; for me, it’s about a high-quality experience.
I wanted to create a festival for adults in the sense that as people mature, they’re more discerning about the experience they want to have. To me this means more seated areas, higher quality food and drinks, enriching ancillary activities, and beautiful surroundings. We didn’t set out with the intention of starting a luxury festival, Oasis developed into one organically.
For more information on Oasis or single-day passes, check out its site.
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