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Swifties in Saudi Arabia Gather for Listening Party 2024

Swifties Unite!

Swifties of the Eastern Province gathered on the night of Taylor Swift’s anticipated double album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” to listen to it while overlooking the city of Alkhobar and multicolored neon lights glistening in the night sky.

At the same moment, the record began playing in Alkhobar’s Trip Lounge, Riyadh held its own listening party at Level Up, while Jeddah’s Swifties listened in from Makan.

The Trip Lounge was packed, with nearly every seat occupied. Musicians Zamzam and Naif Hashem, who hosted the event, conversed with everyone in the room between songs. Only two of the attendees admitted to listening to the record prior to the event, but they were as surprised as the rest of the audience as lyrics began to stream from the speakers.

Zamzam and Hashem, both of whom have busy day jobs, release music independently. Zamzam, the main vocalist of the indie/folk band also named Zamzam, frequently performs locally in areas like Bohemia, and Hashem, a dentist, recently published a new song, “The Great Divide,” earlier this month.

Prior to hosting the Taylor Swift Nights experience, both hosts avoided listening to the album, which had been released earlier that day. They identify as Swifties, as Swift’s followers are known, and have gone through her discography with the care of a fellow musician.

They were perfect guides for filling in the intervals between songs.

“We’re here to listen to Taylor Swift’s new double album because this community enjoys listening to music together. We’ve done this previously and it was successful, and we’ve been preparing this since the album was revealed; it’s so much nicer of an experience to have people gasp, holler, and cry alongside you,” Zamzam explained.

Taylor Swift’s Double Album Debut

Swift’s latest album is a chaotic yet self-aware collection of 31 songs that all feel like hallmark Swift while also delivering a fresh aural collage of stories told through fun, petty, and witty storytelling. Almost every song contained a line, or several, that caused fans to sigh or applaud in unison.

Since its release on Friday, the album has quickly climbed the charts, becoming the most streamed album in a single day in Spotify ever.

Swift stated in an Instagram post announcing the release: “This writer believes that our tears become holy in the shape of ink on a page. We can be free of our saddest stories by sharing them. And then all that remains is tortured poetry.”


A songwriter since her teens, Swift has always offered a romantic notion to her work, bending across genres, starting with country and experimenting with various styles since. No matter what style she sings in, Swift’s fans consider her a modern poet who combines the soul of the tortured artist with a playful, never-want-to-grow-up Peter Pan millennial attitude.

Swift has made a habit of finding lyrical ways to resuscitate the voices and stories of people from the past, particularly women, such as Clara Bow, the “It Girl” of the Roaring Twenties, for whom one of the album’s tunes is called.

Swift fans are constantly speculating on the significance of her lyrics, sifting through puns and references in search of cryptic clues. Swift rarely confirms who she writes about or why, so everything is subject to interpretation.

The album’s title was supposed to be inspired by the cult classic 1989 film “Dead Poets Society.” The music video for Post Malone’s song “Fortnight” features cameos by the film’s beloved stars, Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles.

“Taylor seems to be gaining confidence in herself…” This is my version of Taylor, but over the years, she has enjoyed referencing classic literature and identifying as an American poet,” Zamzam added. In one of her presentations, she mentioned Emily Dickinson as a source of inspiration. I believe this was her finally ripping off a band-aid she’d wanted to rip off for a while, because she tried with ‘Evermore’ and ‘Folklore’ (prior albums) and was like, ‘You know what? “I am leaning into it.”

Community Gatherings Across Eastern Province

The listening party had a relaxed atmosphere, muted lights, and seats arranged as if at an intimate performance.

Lyrics scrolled down karaoke-style on a large screen. Some others in the crowd quickly picked up on the beat and began singing along. Some swayed quietly.

The crowd’s unanimous favorite of the night appeared to be “Florida!!!” by Florence & The Machine.

Swift has stated that the double album took her two years to compose and appears to be heavily influenced by her prior work.

Zamzam explained that organizing the listening party in her hometown was crucial since it provided a dedicated area for Swifties, many of whom are from the millennial and Generation Z generations. It allowed Swifties to get together to celebrate their favorite artist and publicly analyze her songs.

Taylor Swift Nights began in 2021. I wasn’t thinking about anything, and I had no expectations. “It was just me and my best friend,” Hashem recalled of the first time they organized the event in Jeddah some years ago.

“We had no expectations, yet we were blown away by how many people showed up! It was around 100. I was shocked. And so it was like, “Okay, there are die-hard Swifties in Saudi Arabia.” “I thought I was the only one,” he explained.

He met Zamzam, and the collaboration to stage an in-person Swifties event in Alkhobar began.

“We found Trip Lounge and organized our inaugural TS Nights in August of last year. Having this community is incredibly beneficial. As Zamzam already stated, it is having a group to share happiness, pain, and all of that. “We are going to hand out tissues in case anyone wants to cry,” he stated.

“And we printed a number of papers: one for them to comment on and grade each song, and another for them to write down their predictions for each tune. If the forecast was correct, they can cross it out. It resembles bingo. We aim to entertain them (the attendees). “We don’t want them to be bored,” he said.

Sixth grader Ghada Bajaber, the room’s youngest Swiftie, was clearly not bored. She sipped lemonade while scribbling furiously on her Bingo sheet.

“I’m here with my mom — we always listen to Taylor Swift songs, me and my mom. It is what we do together and it’s special for us,” she told Arab News. “I have exams in two days but I still came. I didn’t study, I didn’t do my homework … I just came to memorize Taylor Swift lyrics — not the multiplication table,” Bajaber added.

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