More and more pop stars are moving into the Arab world "kleinezeitung.at 2

More and more pop stars are moving into the Arab world "kleinezeitung.at

When every statement becomes political at a time: pop musicians are venturing more and more into conservative countries. Jennifer Lopez joins Tel Aviv Friday in Cairo.

of Johannes Schmitt-Tegge, dpa | 12.48, August 5, 2019

Jennifer Lopez in Israel
Jennifer Lopez in Israel © (c) APA / AFP / OHAD ZWIGENBERG (OHAD ZWIGENBERG)

That a concert tour across the Middle East can quickly take on political dimensions, learned Jennifer Lopez after arriving in Israel firsthand. "Motherland," she wrote on Instagram, "I'm in love !!" Egypt, a neighboring country that has been fighting bloody wars for decades, has provoked anger.

A user wrote, "If you like it that much, go to hell." The 50-year-old tour, celebrated July 24 by Lopez, will not let the New York singer and actress be spoiled by such slogans. On Friday, August 9, she performs for the first time in her career in Egypt. Under the slogan "It's My Party", a flyer shows them on an oversized birthday cake, tickets to the show in a posh beach club on the north coast of Egypt, converted to 100 euros. Their debut in Israel had given Lopez in Tel Aviv some 57,000 fans a few days earlier.

Popular pop musicians are venturing more and more into the Arab world, but the countries of North Africa and the Middle East have not stopped yet. In some cases, appearances are simply excluded for security reasons. In others, a political conflict (Israel) or a dramatic human rights situation (Saudi Arabia, Egypt) may lead to calls for boycotts. In part, it lacks rooms. In addition, an expensive show must also rely on the sale of tickets.

According to data from the Setlist FM website, which tracks the performance of musicians, artists often roam the area. singer Beyonce, who has played more than 240 in the United States and more than 20 in Germany, only gave him concerts in the region in 2009, including one in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Janet Jackson has come to about 520 shows in the United States, nearly 30 in Germany and about 40 in the United Kingdom at two concerts in the United Arab Emirates and one in Saudi Arabia. at Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Drake and Kanye West shows a similar trend. In the IFPI annual report on the world music industry, the 2018 Middle East did not show up at all.

Pop music speaks of love and heartache, but sometimes also sex and exuberant celebrations. Therefore, the stars must also wonder if, in a religiously conservative country, they make more enemies than to win fans. Islamist critics have warned against Beyoncé's performance in Egypt in 2009, for example, before promoting a "presumptuous sex party" and a "naked concert," "vices and debauchery" "humans. Thousands of people have tried to stop the series with an online petition. Beyoncé appeared – she has not come back since.

Even bigger was the wonder that Nicki Minaj appeared in the program of a cultural festival in Saudi Arabia. Barely a rapper is known for his dirty lyrics, brighter videos and tighter outfits than the 36-year-old Trinidad and Tobago. The scandal is not due to the fact that Minaj canceled the appearance in Jeddah because of concerns about short-term human rights violations. At the last minute, Janet Jackson and 50 cents were announced as replacements, after which the Human Rights Foundation accused them of having thrown their spirits to the sea for a "seven-figure check" .

In the arch-conservative realm, the worlds collided at these shows, says Mohammed Hammad the German press agency. He works in Jeddah as a director and has been employed by the Arabic branch of the MTV music channel. "Some people thought the concerts marked the end of civil society and we would all go to hell." Religious scholars would fear the "end of morality". However, the cultural festival concerts attracted many spectators and the atmosphere was brilliant, said Hammad. "For many, it was the first concert of his life."

American and European singers also have a bonus in the Middle East, says Kuwaiti-based musician Plus Aziz, who heads the indie rock band Kuwaisiana. "If J-Lo, Janet Jackson or the K-pop guys do something sexually suggestive, it does not matter because they are not here," said Plus Aziz. "You can shake your ass and do what you want."