Queen Bey is back. After a four-year hiatus, Beyonce came back into the spotlight with a live concert held at the newly opened Atlantis, The Royal Dubai on January 21. As expected, the much-anticipated one-hour event pleased many of the GRAMMYs winner’s fans. However, not everyone was equally excited about her big return. Beyonce’s performance apparently sparked quite a controversy because of the location chosen for the event.
An Iconic Performance
Beyonce’s grand return started like a well-organized theatrical production with violinists wearing massive red skirts and golden headpieces taking over the scene. They were followed by the singer’s iconic dancers and band, all standing still in a breathtaking scene, folding their hands while looking at the Egyptian-themed backdrop.
Invited guests including Kendall Jenner, Amir Khan, Halle Bailey, Rebel Wilson, Nia Long, and Ellen Pompeo all held their breath while watching Queen Bey rise up on a pedestal. The artist was seen wearing a yellow corseted dress and a feathered skirt over it, complemented by a backpiece covered in feathers and a golden microphone.
The concert, which also featured Beyonce’s parents, husband Jay-Z, and the couple’s children Blue Ivy, Sir Carter, and Rumi, began with a spectacular fireworks display. The event progressed, and the vocalist began performing, accompanied by the all-female Firdaus Orchestra, which was made up of women from 24 various nationalities.
During the “Brown Skin Girl” hit, 11-year-old daughter Blue Ivy showed up on the stage dressed in a red sequined jumpsuit she wore underneath a skirt. Blue Ivy was seen performing a beautiful dance choreography next to her mother. She exited the scene blowing kisses to the crowd.
Beyonce finished the show by climbing a raised platform in the midst of the Skyblaze fountain, the Middle East’s first permanent fire and water display. A spectacular fireworks display emerged in the sky as the artist was gradually carried high into the air.
Why the Criticism?
The artist’s performance was just one of the many celebratory events used to mark the “Grand Reveal” weekend tied to Atlantis Resort’s new venue called The Royal. The opening of the resort has been greatly anticipated for many years. Spread across 63 hectares, the resort has 795 rooms and suites, a large number of hospitality venues, 90 swimming pools, and 17 restaurants. Other events celebrating the grand opening included dinners hosted by world-reputed chefs such as Mich Turner, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Jose Andres.
So why has Beyonce been criticized for her performance? The singer who was paid $24 million for her one-hour performance in Dubai made many people unhappy because of her choice of location. Dubai deems homosexuality illegal and considers it a crime that can be punishable by death. LGBAlliance’s co-founder Bev Jackson explained Beyonce’s show cast a “shadow over her support for lesbians and gay people”.
Her decision to perform here was rather surprising, given the fact that she has long been considered an iconic figure for gay people. Her latest 2022 album called “Renaissance” was envisioned as a love letter aimed at the Black community along with the queer dance music pioneers and communities. However, Beyonce did not perform any of the songs on this album which was also dedicated to her uncle Jonny who identified as gay and who also fought HIV. The singer also honored her uncle when she accepted her award during the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards. Then, she called her uncle “the most fabulous gay man I’ve ever known”.
Many voices accused the artist of accepting the generous cheque and agreeing to perform there for pure financial gain reasons, accusing her of her fake support for the LGBTQ community.
Is the UAE’s Attitude Shifting?
In spite of these strict rules regarding the gay community, Dubai continues to attract a massive number of tourists each year thanks to its luxurious resorts and entertainment. Gambling, however, is not one of them, since the activity is still considered illegal in the United Arab Emirates.
However, the near future might bring some important changes, as non-natives of the UAE may soon be able to play their favorite online casino and betting games with the help of foreign bookmakers like www.arabicbet.org. UAE officials may also legalize gambling by 2026 in an attempt to fight their competition in Saudi Arabia. Dubai officials already gave the green light for the first land casino ever to be built in the Arab Region by Wynn Resorts.
The casino will be built on an artificial island off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah. Good news for Beyonce’s husband rapper Jay Z who is known for his passion for poker, blackjack, and sports betting along with millions of other gaming lovers worldwide.
Slowly but surely, the entire Arab Gulf region is expected to embrace less strict approaches toward gambling in the upcoming years to win the heated competition for tourists. To do this, there needs to be a shift in the cultural and traditional views of the region, as well as a strong commitment to modernizing the industry to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors.
Although it is not yet certain how far the region will go in loosening its regulations, it is clear that the future of the Arab Gulf region’s gambling industry is looking brighter. With the focus now on providing a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors, the Arab Gulf region is well-positioned to become a major destination for tourists and A-list performers alike.