Mariah Carey, one of the greatest singers of all time performed in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, ignoring the call of Saudi women’s rights campaigners to boycott the show. The campaigners criticized the artist for not supporting their cause of highlighting the kingdom’s open abuse of human rights, an issue which has been frequently raised by United Nations.
Saudi Arabia organized the concert, lifting the decades long ban to build its entertainment sector. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is focusing specifically on the entertainment sector to attract investors and foreign visitors; giving them ample opportunities to put their money in diversified markets and transform both the economy and society.
But the question is: is it a façade to distract the world’s attention from distract the people from human rights abuses and Saudi led war in Yemen, which could provoke public outrage as pointed out by Omaima al-Najjar, a Saudi woman who sought political refuge abroad and co-founded Women for Rights in Saudi Arabia (WARSA).
WARSA tried to reach out to Carey because they thought “she has power to stand for women … as an artist and as a female”.
Al-Najjar said that artists like Carey can use their influence to negotiate with the Kingdom and can make performances conditional on the release of the women’s rights activists. Najjar added that a boycott would anyway not impact ordinary Saudis as the average monthly wage of a Saudi is around $2,600 and the concert’s ticket were priced starting at around $80 and VIP seats cost $530 (which were already sold).
Carey’s publicists defended her stand by clarifying Associated Press that when “presented with the offer to perform for an international and mixed gender audience in Saudi Arabia, Mariah accepted the opportunity as a positive step towards the dissolution of gender segregation”.
They added: “As the first female international artist to perform in Saudi Arabia, Mariah recognizes the cultural significance of this event and will continue to support global efforts towards equality for all.” The statement said that Carey “looks forward to bringing inspiration and encouragement to all audiences