Beyoncé Makes Controversial Live Return At Exclusive Dubai Concert – Beyoncé performed her first full concert in over four years at a luxury resort in Dubai for a select audience of invited influencers and journalists. The concert was reported by Pitchfork to be the unofficial opening of the Atlantis the Royal hotel on January 21st. The guests were invited to “a weekend where your dreams become your destination.”
The invitation mentioned a “once-in-a-lifetime performance” but did not specify by which artist. That turned out to be Beyoncé, who played a 19-song set, including a collaboration with her oldest daughter, 11-year-old Blue Ivy, on the live debut of Brown Skin Girl, from Beyoncé’s soundtrack to Disney’s 2019 photorealistic remake of The Lion King.
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According to Stereogum, the performance included live debuts for songs from an album, but did not feature any material from Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed 2022 album “Renaissance” which was intended as a tribute to Black and queer dance music pioneers and communities. As many fans have noted, homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates and considered a crime punishable by death.
It is not always enforced: researchers at the London School of Economics have found that western gay men in the UAE are able to “use their economic, social and cultural privileges to create communities where they can meet and socialise.” For some time, fans have been urging musicians to refrain from performing in the UAE and Saudi Arabia due to the severe human rights abuses committed in those countries. In 2019, Nicki Minaj withdrew from a concert in Saudi Arabia at the request of the Human Rights Foundation.
However, in 2021, Justin Bieber went ahead with a performance at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix despite calls from activists to cancel it. News outlet has contacted representatives for Beyoncé about her decision to perform in the country. People at the concert were asked to put their phones in locked pouches to prevent footage from the event circulating.
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Nevertheless, footage is appearing online and shows the musician backed by the Lebanese dance troupe the Mayyas. Following the show, a publicist for Beyoncé circulated professional footage of the show. A press release stated that there was “more to come.” General access live dates for Renaissance are yet to be announced. Billed as Act 1, the album is expected to be the first in a duo or trilogy.