Beyoncé Faces Backlash for Dubai Show, Her First Concert in 4 Years

While many fans were excited, others were disappointed to see the Grammy-winning artist perform in a country with such strict anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Queen Bey returned to the musical stage for the first time in 4 years in Dubai on Saturday for the opening of new luxury hotel Atlantis The Royal. Normally, a Beyoncé concert after so much time would be met with universal excitement; however, the singer’s LBGTQ+ fan base is divided on her venue choice. While many were excited, others were disappointed to see the Grammy-winning artist perform in a country with such strict anti-LGBTQ+ policies and not use the venue to champion the voices of queer people living in the UAE and abroad.

Beyoncé didn't perform any songs from “Renaissance,” her latest album, which celebrated Black and LGBTQ+ culture. It was dedicated to her late Uncle Johnny, who she once referred to as the “most fabulous gay man I have ever known.”

One fan, Lawrence Barton, told BBC News that it was disappointing to see her perform in Dubai, because he had considered the singer to be an ally to the community. He also says, however, that fans need to hear from the singer about why she made the choice.

“But we don't actually know whether she even considered the LGBTQI legislation over there, it might not have even been a consideration,” he said. “We need to hear from Beyoncé herself about how she feels about the situation that our community faces over there.”

Offering a different perspective, drag queen Aaron Carly, who performs as Beyoncé, celebrated Beyoncé’s choice in venue, calling the artist a “change-maker.” “Beyoncé performing in Dubai is a statement in itself,” he told the BBC News.

In the private concert, for which she reportedly earned $24 million ($280,000 per minute), Beyoncé performed some of her greatest hits and sang a duet of “Brown Skin Girl” with her daughter, 11-year-old Blue Ivy Carter.

Beyonce’s performance paid tribute to the women in the Middle East by featuring the Lebanese all-female dance group, the Mayyas and sampling popular Middle Eastern artists Fairouz and Warda.

The last time Beyoncé performed a full concert was in 2018, during the Global Citizen Festival.

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a Middle Eastern country made up of 7 regions that enforces strict laws regarding LGBTQ+ rights. The UAE outlaws sodomy and men dressing as women to enter women-only spaces. Additionally, acts that “offend modesty and public morals,” “incite to a life of sin,” or “tempt another openly to sinfulness by any means” can be used to arrest anyone deemed in violation and target members of the LGBTQ+ community, according to Human Rights Watch.