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Straight to the bank: Rapper 50 Cent to perform at controversial Saudi concert Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Straight to the bank: Rapper 50 Cent to perform at controversial Saudi concert

US rapper and entrepreneur 50 Cent is due to perform in Saudi Arabia. [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 July, 2019

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The Jeddah World Fest has announced that 50 Cent will perform in Saudi Arabia, just a week after superstar Nicki Minaj pulled out of another concert in the kingdom.
US rapper and entrepreneur 50 Cent is due to perform at a concert in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, it was announced, a week after rap superstar Nicki Minaj cancelled her appearance citing concerns about women's and gay rights in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

"50 CENT!!! WOW WOW WOW @50Cent is going to perform live at Jeddah World Fest!" festival organisers tweeted on Wednesday.

The official page for the Jeddah fest also announced that Janet Jackson, who was once married to a Qatari businessman, would be throwing her first concert in the kingdom.

"We can't wait to see this incredible icon in Jeddah!" the Jeddah Season Twitter account said.

Attendees at the music festival are expected to conform to Riyadh's rigid rules for the appearance of women in public and must refrain from drug and alcohol consumption. Both are still punishable by death or life imprisonment.

US rapper Nicki Minaj's scheduled appearance in the western city of Jeddah as part of the cultural festival had triggered a social media backlash over human rights in the country, before she eventually pulled out of the concert.

"While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression," she said in a statement.

Amnesty International has described the Saudi human rights record as "abysmal", adding that the nation is in the "grip of a sweeping crackdown against critics of the government".

The festival in Saudi Arabia, which forbids alcohol and has a strict social code, comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pursues a sweeping "liberalisation" drive that has led to new cinemas, concerts and sporting extravaganzas.

These apparent reforms however, do not include measures to allow freedom of expression or association, or improve Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

Mohammed bin Salman's reforms are seen by some as an attempt to blunt public frustration over an economic downturn and high youth unemployment.

Saudi Arabia is also moving to boost domestic spending on entertainment and tourism, as the kingdom has reeled from low oil prices.

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