Pop singer Justin Bieber went on with his performance Sunday at the Saudi Arabia Formula One Grand Prix, despite requests from around the world to cancel the show due to the country's arrests of dissenters.
According to an article in Mediaite, the 27-year-old Canadian singer took the stage in front of a packed audience in the Saudi Arabia city of Jeddah during that nation's first F1 race promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who attended the event and posed for selfies with young Saudi men, The Associated Press reported.
According to the story, Mohammed hosted the event to promote tourism in his country.
The prince has been the center of controversy since the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to obtain the paperwork he needed to wed his Turkish fiancee.
A Biden administration investigation reportedly found that Mohammed approved the killing of Khashoggi by Saudi agents after his columns that criticized the prince's foreign policy decisions and crackdown on dissidents in the country were published, according to The New York Times.
Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, wrote an open letter to The Washington Post asking Bieber to cancel the performance.
''Please know that your invitation to participate in a concert in Jeddah comes directly from MBS, as the crown prince is known,'' Cengiz said in the letter. ''Nothing of significance happens in Saudi Arabia without his consent, and certainly not an event as important and flashy as this.''
In 2019, singer Mariah Carey appeared at a concert in the country despite calls for her to cancel the show in the wake of Khashoggi's killing, while rapper Nicki Minaj did cancel a planned show, saying at the time that she was supporting women's rights, gay rights and freedom of expression, according to the AP.
A Saudi state-owned ''wealth fund'' bought up significant shares in Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, and promoted Bieber and other artists, spending a reported $500 million after its stock fell during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns last year, making it the second-largest stakeholder in the company. Its investment is valued at around $1.4 billion.
The Saudi government tried five people it said were responsible for Khashoggi's death and sentenced them to death, but they were spared that fate by Mohammed. the AP reported.
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