Jeddah, Jul 5(BAN/CD): Organisers of Jeddah World Fest announced that Nicki Minaj will perform in the kingdom later this month, as a step toward moving away from the conservative restrictions on the entertainment industry.
Onika Tanya Maraj, popularly known as Nicki Minaj will headline the concert on July 18, said Saudi organizers in a press conference.
According to Al Jazeera, the concert will take place at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red Sea city. In line with the laws of the kingdom, the concert will be drug and alcohol free. It is open to all those who are 16 and above.
Saudi Arabia has also promised electronic visas for international visitors who want to attend the concert.
The headline act, which will be televised on MTV, will also feature Liam Payne, former British boy-band, One Direction member and American DJ Steve Aoki.
Al Jazeera has reported that this announcement has triggered a variety of reactions from fans; from joy to disappointment.
In a video that has now been viewed more than 37,000 times, a woman is criticising the Saudi government for their hypocrisy in inviting Nicki Minaj to perform but requiring women who attend the concert to wear the abaya.
On the other hand, Nicki Minaj is receiving criticism on Twitter after the news about the concert was posted. The rapper is being questioned by Twitterati for supporting a government that violates human rights.
Nicholas Kristoff, a New York Times columnist has tweeted: “I don't mind @NICKIMINAJ performing in Saudi Arabia--if she speaks up about women's rights there. Dedicate a song to Loujain al-Hathloul, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee who was tortured and sexually assaulted for advocating for women. Ask the crown prince to stop starving Yemen.”
Jamal Khashoggis assasination, the on-going war with Yemen and death penalty for LGBTQ+ folks engaged in same sex activity are some of the recent human rights abuses that have been cited by those criticisng Minaj’s concert in Saudi Arabia.
Under Crown Prince Mohammed Salman, restrictions on the entertainment industry are being loosened.
Inviting Nicki Minaj for a concert despite her extravagant outfits, explicit lyrics and empowered woman image, which is in stark contrast to what Saudi Arabia represents, is one such example.
Mariah Carey was the first high-profile Western woman to perform in the kingdom. Other artists such as Enrique Iglesias, Black-Eyes Peas, Sean Paul and DJs David Guetta and Tiesto are few who have performed there in the last several months.
In April 2018, Saudi opened its first cinema after a 35 year old ban on cinemas was lifted.
Although some rules and laws still exist quite rigidly, efforts to modernize Saudi Arabia’s conservative and traditional image are underway, with moves like allowing women to drive and attend events in sports stadiums.