In an unusual move by the famously conservative kingdom, it appears that Saudi Arabia has invited rapper Nicki Minaj to headline its Jeddah World Music Festival this month.
The Trinidad and Tobago-born rapper is scheduled to headline the music and performance festival on July 18 along with British artist Liam Payne and American DJ Steve Aoki.
The festival, which in line with Saudi laws is alcohol and drug-free, is open to people age 16 and older and will take place at the King Abdullah Sports stadium in the Red Sea city.
Nicki Minaj is known for more than just her rap skills, with explicit lyrics and provocative performances sometimes taking centre stage. So why did she get an invite to Saudi Arabia, where public spaces are mostly segregated by gender and women’s rights are still restricted?
It is no longer news that the Saudi government has made efforts to relax some of its restrictions. Last year, a 35-year ban on movie theatres was lifted, and women were finally given the right to drive. This year, Mariah Carey held her own concert in Saudi Arabia, despite backlash from women’s rights activists.
It’s all part of an economic overhaul under Vision 2030, an effort to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil. The kingdom is attempting to create economic activity at home and encourage citizens to spend their money within its borders – hence, the Jeddah World Music Festival.
Nicki recently released her new single titled “Megatron” and the visuals for the record-smashing track features a cameo appearance of her beau, Kenneth Petty.
Speaking on his appearance in the music video on her podcast – Queen Radio, Minaj stated that although he was initially reluctant to appear in the video because she had to wake him up from his sleep, he was cheesy about his appearance when he finally saw the video.
She also revealed that she and Petty have received their marriage license on her latest Queen Radio dispatch but no further wedding plans was revealed.