RIYADH (AFP) – The axing of a concert by rapper Nicki Minaj in Saudi Arabia unleashed a social media storm on Wednesday (July 10), with many fans in the ultra-conservative kingdom voicing disappointment and demanding ticket refunds.
The American star on Tuesday (July 9) said she pulled out of the July 18 concert in a show of support for women’s and gay rights in Saudi Arabia.
The announcement of her performance in the western city of Jeddah had prompted an online backlash from arch-conservatives as the kingdom pursues a contentious liberalisation drive that loosened decades-old restrictions on entertainment.
“So sad, I was preparing to do a Michael Jackson dance at the party,” one Twitter user wrote.
Organisers of the Jeddah Season cultural festival said thousands of tickets were sold for the concert that includes performances by British musician Liam Payne and American DJ Steve Aoki.
Minaj also faced a torrent of abuse for supporting gay rights in the Islamic kingdom, with one person writing on Twitter: “Cancellation of the party is good news.”
She is well-known for her provocative, profanity-laced lyrics and skin-baring music videos. The singer insisted on Twitter that she did not want to perform in a country where “women have no rights”, but added that her decision was not intended to “disrespect” the Saudi government.
Citing unnamed sources, a few Saudi media outlets, including the pro-government Okaz newspaper, insisted that it was the kingdom that cancelled the concert as it went against local “customs and values”.