Zayn Malik announced his first official solo concert date around May 15, but few of his fans may understand the importance of the Autism Rocks Arena in Dubai and what this particular issue means to Zayn.
During Zayn Malik’s One Direction days, he participated in several charity events with the band, and they are typically known for fundraisers for kids cancer research. However, Zayn Malik and One Direction have also raised a considerable amount of money for autism charities.
In particular, in May, 2014, Zayn Malik and One Direction played a charity soccer match for Irish Autism Action and U.K. Heart and Minds Challenge that raised over $450,000, according to JustJared and Kerry Magro.
On top of this, there have been subsequent charity events for individual One Direction members such as the online fundraiser Niall Horan fans organized for his birthday to raise $10,000 for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, according to UnReality TV.
Since One Direction went on break, Niall Horan has also stepped up to raise money specifically for autism, according to his Instagram account, but Zayn Malik himself had not publicly participated in a charity outside of the British Asian Trust (of which he is now an official Ambassador).
While Zayn Malik was in One Direction, he would often do solo charity projects such as the graffiti art piece that he sold to donate money to the British Children’s Museum in 2013, according to SugarScape.
In May, 2014, Zayn Malik donated a guitar to raise around $32,000 for the Kean’s Children’s Fund in Dundee, Scotland, according to Sunday Express.
While Zayn Malik might be secretly donating millions of dollars, he has not tweeted that much about particular charities since he broke up with One Direction. Despite this, Zayn Malik’s recent announcement about Dubai puts autism in front and center.
Zayn Malik put an advertisement for his first solo concert on Instagram around May 16, and the wording states that the event will be held on October 7 at the Autism Rocks Arena in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Autism Rocks is a U.K. based charity, but the reason that it is now an arena that someone like Zayn Malik would use in a place like Dubai has an interesting history. Mainly, according to their website, the Autism Rocks foundation was founded by British-born Sanjay Shah, who currently lives in Dubai.
The Autism Rocks Arena was formerly called 117 Live, and was a pop-up venue for many years. Construction is still in progress in the area where the permanent Autism Rocks Arena will open in 2017, but IQ Mag states that “[t]he temporary greenfield site will be replaced by a permanent amphitheater at the Dubai Outlet Mall.”
Focusing on autism is welcome in Dubai because the city is an important medical destination for surrounding countries. In 2012, The International Medical Travel Journal explained that there were only a few gaps in medical specialization that kept Dubai from truly being a world-famous medical treatment destination.
For this reason, in addition to Dubai improving aid to people with autism, the National also explains that Dubai wants to be a destination country for “medical tourism” at large, according to a 2014 report.
So far, this focus on wanting to be the best at everything medical has resulted in a multi-million dollar facility specifically designed to provide families with members with autism to have the best services and aid available. Completed in 2015, AMEInfo writes the Dubai Autism Center has been gaining prominent supporters such as His Excellency Easa Saleh Al Gurg.
Along the way, important celebrities well-known in America such as Flo Rida, Tyga, Prince, and Zayn Malik have also helped organizations similar to the Dubai Autism Center through their Autism Rocks concert events in Dubai.
Once Zayn Malik starts getting ready for his trip to Dubai, he could add other events to raise awareness for autism. For instance, Khaleej Times reports that the first Arabic app to give a voice to kids with autism was developed in the U.A.E.
Dubai also has a lot of awareness-raising events throughout the year that Zayn Malik could get on board with. For instance, in the past, Dubai created the “world’s longest painting” in order to shine a light on autism, according to Guinness World Records.
Although it usually takes place in April (long after Zayn Malik will be there in October), there is also an annual autism festival in Dubai, according to Gulf News.
[Picture by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]