NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 12:42
The fact that Beyoncé chose Dubai yesterday to give a concert for the first time in four years is not appreciated by everyone. The American megastar is under fire for her choice to perform in the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is a criminal offense.
Beyoncé did not perform a single song from her successful 2022 album Renaissance. On that critically acclaimed album, she honors black and queer pioneers of the 1970s house and disco scene. In the so-called “Ballroom Culture” that started in New York City, African Americans and Latinos within the LGBTI group freedom on the dance floor. Renaissance also deals with themes such as self-expression, self-confidence and hedonism.
No number 1 hit
Beyoncé passed her most recent No. 1 hit Break My Soul from the Renaissance album in the hour-long concert. Social media is reacting with incomprehension and disappointment. “Beyoncé is paid for a press tour in Dubai while Rennaisance is about ballroom culture. It’s illegal to be gay in Dubai, it carries the death penalty,” one fan writes on Reddit.
“I love Beyoncé but performing in Dubai when you just released an album that is so important to a community is disappointing,” another fan wrote on Twitter.
The 41-year-old singer has regularly stood up for the LGBT community in recent years. For example, in 2020 she said in a speech to recent graduates: “Your queerness is beautiful, your blackness is beautiful, your compassion, your understanding, your struggle for people who are different from you is beautiful.”
Rumor has it that Beyoncé was paid around $24 million for the concert in Dubai, which was closed to fans. Journalists, celebrities and influencers were invited to attend the concert in a luxurious resort. Attendees were asked not to take photos or videos of the concert, but they did not comply. Social media today is full of footage of the concert:
Other artists with plans to perform in the United Arab Emirates declined to do so under pressure from fans or human rights organizations. For example, rapper and singer Nicki Minaj was supposed to perform at the Jeddah World Fest in Saudi Arabia in 2019, but she decided to stay at home after the Human Rights Foundation asked her to.
Beyoncé herself has not yet said a word about the performance in Dubai and the criticism from her fans.