"The Jeddah World Fest is funded and authorized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), one of the world's worst human rights violators", the statement reads. Other announced performers include former One Direction British singer Liam Payne and American DJ Steve Aoki.
"After careful reflection I have made a decision to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest", she told the publication.
The US-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) had earlier urged Minaj to back out from the festival, saying her appearance would be a lost cause since she supported the festivities in NY marking Gay Pride month in June.
The news sparked controversy and massive reactions in Saudi Arabia. The human rights organization is fighting a regime in this country that insists on the separation of the sexes and the oppression of women's rights.
The post amassed more than 15,000 comments within the first hour, as fans pleaded with the rapper to reconsider her decision. "We hope he and his managers choose morals over money". That's a stark change from when Saudi morality police would raid establishments that played loud music. It has just been announced that Jeddah World Fest will kick off on July 18, as part of the 41-day Jeddah Season festival, and the event promises to be a star-studded one.
Saudi Arabia saw profound change a year ago as a result of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's top-down reform efforts, including the opening of the first movie theater and the lifting of the world's only ban on women driving. Can women go to the concert without a man?
In March, the kingdom drew further criticism when it put 10 women's rights activists on trial.
While the arena for entertainment is widening, the space for political engagement and dissent has virtually disappeared.
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