Israel has a new summer festival. Organizers have booked Joe Cocker to headline the inaugural Gilboa Co-existence Festival, which begins Aug. 26 at the 6,000-capacity Charod Springs Amphitheatre in the Gilboa municipality of northern Israel.

The three-day festival, which celebrates peace and coexistence among Jews and Arabs in the Gilboa region, is an initiative of Jerusalem-based 2bVibes Productions in association with U.K.-based concerts promoter Marshall Arts.

"Joe Cocker is the right act to launch this new festival," comments Carmi Wurtman, 2BVibes CEO and Hillel Wachs, the festival international-booking agent, in a statement issued today. "We expect the venue to sell out shortly". 2BVibes produced the September 2007 fest "Jerusalem Rocks," which featured performances from the likes of Black Eyed Peas and Arrested Development.

"Many acts will be original musical Arab-Jewish ensembles and bands created especially for the festival in never-before seen line-ups," Wachs tells Billboard.biz. "As the Gilboa municipality is the most successfully integrated in Israel, the music of the festival will reflect this."

The Gilboa fest is the latest in a spate of outdoor music events which have sprung up in the region -- a clear sign, observers say, that the live market in the Middle East is maturing. The live markets of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Jordan have gathered steam in recent months. Dubai, in particular, has been identified as a touring market of growing stature.

The United Arab Emirates city-state has taken strides to exploit its standing as a holiday destination of note by hosting an increasing number of outdoor concerts and festivals, including this year's Dubai Desert Rock Festival and the Urban Desert festival. Powerhouse American firms Live Nation and AEG Live have both bolstered their presences in the market in the early part of this year.

Plans are for "Jerusalem Rocks" to return to the festival landscape in the summer of 2009 as a bi-annual festival, Wachs adds.

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