Sofia Richie, Scott Disick And Others Face Backlash For Attending A Music Festival In Saudi Arabia
The influencers were paid to attend the festival despite the country's human rights violations.
Social media influencers Sofia Richie and Scott Disick, DJ Steve Aoki, models Winnie Harlow, Alessandra Ambrosio and Stella Maxwell and actors Armie Hammer, Ed Westwick and Ryan Phillippe are among the list of celebrities who were paid to attend the MDL Beast festival in Riyadh, the country’s capital.
It has been reported that the Saudi government has dished out all-expenses-paid tours to influencers to post positive stories and images online to improve the country’s reputation while overlooking the country’s long-running history of human rights abuses.
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What I just witnessed was truly special. I saw Saudi men and women ecstatic about an event that they never thought they would ever see in their lifetimes… it felt like a cultural shift. A change. Like Woodstock in the 1960’s. Social evolution is slow and takes time but what I was able to be a part of felt like one giant seed of growth. The people there throwing themselves into the experience will lead a cultural revolution that we all need to get behind and support. #mdlbeast
In a photo posted by Sofia, she used the caption “Saudi girls” and it was posted from Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, the same hotel that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used to hold a number of prominent Saudis who were held against their will under the guise of anti-corruption efforts.
Diet Prada, a fashion and culture commentary Instagram account, name checked each celebrity in attendance and criticised them for “Cashing big fat checks in exchange for #content creation (aka propaganda) to rehabilitate the image of Saudi Arabia, a country said to be causing “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.
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What’s worse than an all white @revolve influencer trip? Cashing big fat checks in exchange for #content creation (aka propaganda) to rehabilitate the image of Saudi Arabia, a country said to be causing “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, according to the United Nations. According to anonymous sources, six-figure sums were offered for attendance and geo-tagged posts. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Following the government’s pre-meditated murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi in October 2018 , the arrest of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul in May 2018, the outing of a gay Saudi journalist and his partner who began receiving death threats from their families (homosexuality is a crime in Saudi Arabia and punishable by death), and countless other human rights abuses, a bevy of supermodels, influencers, celebrities, and musicians convened in Riyadh for the inaugural @mdlbeast . According to @hypebeast , the electronic music festival is “one of the most significant musical events the region has ever seen”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Saudi Arabia has been spending billions to change its image in the west, but this is sure to be the most expensive campaign yet. In a series of Instagram stories posted by transgender model @teddy_quinlivan , it was revealed that fellow model @emrata had turned down the trip, evidently aware of the country’s human rights crisis. “It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press. I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there”, said Ratajkowski in a statement to Diet Prada. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Unfortunately, not all shared the same sentiments. There are simply too many attendees to name. Dieters, feel free to tag any attendees you know of… just in case they haven’t been reading the news. • #propoganda #jamalkashoggi #humanrights #humanrightsabuse #lgbtq #lgbtqrights #freespeech #journalism #independent #womensrights #mdlbeast #edm #electronicmusic #supermodel #influencer #content #riyadh #emrata #emilyratajkowski #teddyquinlivan #model #celebrity #dj #electronicmusic #musicfestival #wtf #smh #government #corruption #dietprada
Diet Prada also reports that model Emily Ratajkowski turned down the trip as she is aware of the country’s human rights crisis. She said in a statement: “It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press. I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there”.
Their attendance of the festival has been described as “the dark side of influencer culture”.
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