Nunavut Post

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Saudi entertainment boom has raised concerns about harassment

Saudi entertainment boom

Key Takeaways:

  • While one of the Middle East’s largest music festivals was taking place in Saudi Arabia over the weekend.
  • The festival’s organizer promised to take extra precautions to prevent sexual or other harassment at the platform on the outskirts of Riyadh.

Mass entertainment opportunities are no longer a novelty in the once-austere kingdom. Still, local and foreign women have reported harassment, some of which have been captured on video.

The scenes in Saudi Arabia remain almost surreal, with ravers convulsing to the rhythm of ear-splitting beats in a country where even performing music in public was frowned upon just a few years ago. Nevertheless, MDLBeast’s Soundstorm event thudded for four days, with hundreds of thousands of people dancing to some of the world’s biggest DJs.

Famous performers worldwide were forced to consider the kingdom’s human rights record before attending, with activists accusing those who did so of helping to whitewash the image of a repressive government.

Middle East’s largest music festivals; Image from BBC News

They were not the only that who had second thoughts about going; there have been analyses of recounted sexual harassment of women at the outstanding series of massive entertainment events that have become a regular feature of life in Riyadh and elsewhere. In addition, in recent years, several videos of groups of men groping and harassing women have gone viral.

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MDLBeast launched the Respect and Reset campaign, promising zero tolerance for women’s safety at its events. Those who attended over the last week commended them on their efforts.

The prince’s supporters say the process is still in its early stages, and they urge patience until such changes become the norm.

However, the Saudi women who contacted the BBC questioned how inclusive this plan was in practice, claiming that women’s hopes and concerns were still being addressed only superficially.

They claimed that harassment was an example of this, discouraging many Saudi women from participating in a wide range of events ostensibly aimed at opening up Saudi Arabia to a new world of tourists and influencers, but also its citizens.

Source: BBC News

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