The seven-piece is set to play the 68,000-plus capacity King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, the country’s capital, on Oct. 11, 2019, as one of the last shows on their extensive Love Yourself / Speak Yourself world tour.
Although a number of international artists, including the Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna, have performed in Saudi Arabia before, BTS will be the first act ever to hold its own solo concert at a stadium in the country.
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As a result of the announcement, BTS has been criticized by many fans citing the Saudi government’s human rights record.
Much of the “BTS Army,” however, seems to be siding with the Seoul, South Korea-based band.
In recent and similar events, Mariah Carey became the first-ever woman to perform in Saudi Arabia back in January. The All I Want for Christmas is You singer was targeted heavily by the Saudi women activist group Women For Rights In Saudi Arabia (or WARSA).
Remember, thanks to my sister @LoujainHathloul, you r able to perform in Saudi Arabia.
I wish she can attend your concert. But she’s locked behind bars because she tried to improve women's condition.
Don' forget to thank her on stagehttps://t.co/0Pf7bfz3yB
— علياء الهذلولAlia al-Hathloul (@alia_ww) January 25, 2019
Nicki Minaj was also scheduled to perform at the country’s Jeddah World Fest 2019 in July, however, just last week she cancelled the show, claiming she wants to show support for women’s rights, gay rights and freedom of expression.
Guetta, 51, after remixing a number of patriotic Saudi Arabian songs during a gig in December, was called out by human rights activists over social media for his “ignorance” and not knowing the meaning behind the music he played.
Disgusting that @davidguetta is not only performing in #Saudi, but playing songs praising the king – while leading human rights defenders are in prison, and we have reports that the women human rights defenders have been subjected to #torture. #Shame https://t.co/aTwKnH4hzu
— Maryam Alkhawaja (@MARYAMALKHAWAJA) December 16, 2018
According to many Twitter users, the songs in question were a series of pro-regime songs about the widely unpopular King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
In contrast to other artists, BTS fans, for the most part, were supportive of the group’s decision to play Saudi Arabia.
This is what some of their supporters had to say via Twitter:
Tell hotels and restaurants and public transport services to be prepared,sir. A troup of ARMY from all over the world will be there too.
— Emma🧨𝔻𝕐ℕ𝔸𝕄𝕀𝕋𝔼 (@wet_bts) July 14, 2019
I never expected a concert in Saudi Arabia. I’m so happy for my Arab moots. This really means bts will go places they never been to like South Africa and India. And hopefully Australia, NZ, the Philippines etc get a tour this year 🙏🏼
— ♡ (@lucidseoul) July 14, 2019
However, there were still a large number of individuals protesting the upcoming gig.
Here’s what some of them had to say:
Shame on @bts_bighit @BTS_twt on performing in Saudi Arabia. The horrible things that go on in SA against people's human rights based in gender, sexual orientation and BTS are fine with that? All they care about is the money and fame. So sad…
— Jack Spears (@_JackSpears_) July 15, 2019
One fan wrote: “The Prince had someone executed, gay people are publicly whipped and thousands are tortured because they dare to speak out about the regime… not a good thing that are going there.”
As of this writing, BTS has not publicly addressed the controversy.
Global News has reached out to BTS’ management, Big Hit Entertainment.
Following the scheduled concert in Saudi Arabia, the group will be performing three concerts at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium to conclude the extensive Love Yourself / Speak Yourself tour.
Currently, BTS has no scheduled Canadian tour dates.
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