Nicki Minaj pulls Saudi Arabia gig following backlash from human rights activists

Rapper was due to appear at Jeddah World Fest later this month

Nicki Minaj has axed her forthcoming appearance at the Jeddah World Fest in Saudi Arabia later this month.

The rapper was scheduled to appear at the alcohol-free event open to fans aged 16 and over at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in Red Sea, on July 18. Liam Payne and Steve Aoki are also set to perform.

Earlier this week, the Human Rights Foundation asked Minaj to withdraw from the festival, citing Saudi Arabia’s poor treatment of women and minorities.

CEO Thor Halvorssen wrote: “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the individual who authorised and is financing your seven-figure performance at the event. I am writing to urgently inform you of the human rights crises in Saudi Arabia.”

Halvorssen also noted that Minaj had recently “celebrated Pride Week to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community”, but likened her performing in Saudi Arabia to “condoning, and serving the public relations needs, of a government that executes homosexuals for the ‘crime’ of being who they are.”

The letter was sent to Minaj via email, as well as to her former managers Cortez Bryant and Gee Roberson, and Republic Records’ Robert Stevenson and Ben Adelson.

Minaj has now issued a statement to the Associated Press confirming that she has pulled her appearance.

“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest. While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression,” Minaj said.

Last month, Minaj released her first new single since the release of her 2018 album ‘Queen’. ‘Megatron’ referenced Transformers and was accompanied by a video that starred the rapper’s boyfriend Kenneth Petty.