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Nicki Minaj to Headline Music Festival in Saudi Arabia

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By Daniel Goldblatt

Nicki Minaj will be the headlining performer at the Jeddah World Fest in the usually ultraconservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The concert will take place at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red Sea city on July 18. In line with Saudi laws, it will be alcohol and drug-free.

Liam Payne and Steve Aoki are also slated to perform.

Robert Quirke, president of event organizer Roqu Media International, said of Minaj, "She is an absolute global icon. She has 130 million followers on Instagram, she is considered one of the top 10 female performers of all time, she’s had multiple awards and she’ll have her new album come out this year."

He continued, “She is going to get a lot of attention for Jeddah in the most positive way you can imagine. She’s going to be actively on her social media, she’ll be posting right from the stage in Jeddah and at her hotel in Jeddah. Everyone is going to know that Nicki Minaj has landed in Saudi Arabia."

“This is the largest musical festival of its kind in the region that will be broadcast to a global audience in more than 100 countries,” said Raed Abuzinadah, the director-general Jeddah Season. “There is a stereotype of the kingdom all over the world, and today it is disappearing. In its place is a new picture of the kingdom that accepts everyone.”

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Reaction to the announcement has been mixed. While her fans are understandably excited, a video posted to Twitter by a Saudi woman (which has been viewed over 60,000 times) rants against the idea.

“She’s going to go and shake her a-- and all her songs are indecent and about sex and shaking a-- and then you tell me to wear the abaya,” she says in the video (which is not all in English). “What the hell?”

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