Mariah Carey's Saudi Arabia performance pleases youth, anguishes women activists

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey Reuters

Pop Sensation Mariah Carey's live performance in King Abdullah Economic City in Riyadh on Thursday, which her publicists say was a step towards promoting gender equality globally, has not exactly pleased women rights activists based in Saudi Arabia.

The women rights defenders and their families had earlier requested Carey to cancel the programme as a mark of support to a dozen jailed female activists and protest their abuse and torture in the prison.

However, the international superstar went ahead with her schedule and performed with other musicians including DJ Tiesto, Jamaican singer Sean Paul on Thursday night to a grooving mixed-gender crowd that comprised mostly Saudi youngsters and foreigners, the Arab News reported.

Mariah's team described the concert as " a step towards promoting gender equality globally."

"As the first female international artist to perform in Saudi Arabia, Mariah recognizes the cultural significance of this event and will continue to support global efforts towards equality for all," the pop sensation's team said in a statement.

As much as the young crowd liked Mariah's performace and sang along her hit numbers, the families of Saudi Arabia-based women rights activists said that the international singer did no pay any heed to the growing rights abuses and disempowerment of the women in the kigndom which is happening for a long time.

Women activists term the entertainment concerts in Saudi Arabia a sham

The Saudi Arabia government under the leadership of Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman has relaxed the restrictions on the entertainment and sports over last few years, however, there have been allegedly no change in the rules over the rights of women.

Nearly a dozen women rights activists are currently lodged in Saudi prisons, who are seeking an end to male guardianship laws and other rights from the government.

Their families have alleged that these women have been met with the worst kind of torture ans sexual harrasment since last year.

Omaima-al-Najar, a who founded Women for Rights in Saudi Arabia (WARSA) and has sought political asylum abroad, told Guardian that the Saudi government is covering up its human rights abuses under the garb of entertainment so that they do not instigate the public sentiment.

Najar and her organisation had urged Mariah to cancel the invitation by the Saudi government to support the detained activists or make her performance conditional subject to the release of the women prisoners.

The Saudi government has meanwhile denied such allegations and reasoned that these jailed women were "working for foreign entiities".

The official statement from the Saudi government stated that the women who have been jailed are going through the routine legal process and are held for questioning and would not be subjected to physical or psychological torture.