US rapper Nicki Minaj will perform in Saudi Arabia this month, organizers said, triggering a storm on social media as the ultra-conservative kingdom loosens decades-old restrictions on entertainment.
Minaj, known for her profanity-laced lyrics and raunchy music videos, will perform in the western city of Jeddah on July 18, organizers of the ongoing Jeddah Season cultural festival announced on Twitter on Tuesday.
The headline act, to be televised on MTV, will also feature British musician Liam Payne and American DJ Steve Aoki, local media reported.
“She (Minaj) is going to be active on her social media, she’ll be posting right from the stage and at her hotel in Jeddah,” Robert Quirke, an event organizer, was quoted as saying by the Arab News daily. “Everyone is going to know that Nicki Minaj has landed in Saudi Arabia.”
The performance in the kingdom, which forbids alcohol and has a strict social code, comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pursues a sweeping liberalization drive that has led to new cinemas, concerts, and sporting extravaganzas.
The news was widely welcomed in a country where two-thirds of the population is under 30, with one Twitter user posting a picture of Minaj and writing: “My dream has come true.”
But it also triggered outrage from conservative quarters.
“She is going to go and shake her backside and all her songs are about sex... and then everyone tells me to wear the abaya. What the hell!” one woman said in a video posted on Twitter.
Saudi Arabia is boosting entertainment that allows citizens to have fun, in what some see as an attempt to blunt public frustration over an economic downturn and high youth unemployment.
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