American pop star and rapper Nicki Minaj has come under fire, for her decision to perform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for its human right abuses due to its treatment of women, the LGBTQ community and suppression of speech. This event is scheduled to happen in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah World Fest on July 18.
Although Minaj is scheduled to the headline event, other foreigners that are scheduled to perform include British artist Liam Payne and DJ Steve Aoki. It should also be noted that they are not the first artists to perform in the country, Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias, the Black Eyed Peas, rapper Sean Paul, and DJs David Guetta and Tiesto have all performed in the kingdom in the past.
This announcement also comes only a few months after the murder of Saudi-born journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi, at a Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Due to the strong amount of evidence to suggest that Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman, one of the most powerful officials in the country right after his father King Salman, ordered the killing, the government and investment into the country have been strongly criticized.
In addition, Minaj’s risque style, which include her scantily clad performances and heavy use of sexual innuendo and profanity, in a country where many women are still wearing face veils, and are required by law to wear modest full-length robes known as the abaya, has been called out over accusations of hypocrisy.
“She’s going to go and shake her ass and all her songs are indecent and about sex and shaking ass and then you tell me to wear the abaya,” a Saudi woman explained in a video, according to Stereogum. “What the hell?”
Despite these concerns however some are praising this as a move that Saudi Arabia is slowly becoming more progressive. Prior to this festival what was known as the “Saudi Morality Police,” which enforced strict Wahhabist moral code, would often shut down various establishments for playing music too loudly. In addition, Saudi Arabia has also opened up a little more, by finally allowing women to drive and attend sporting events in non-segregated spaces.