Everyone loves Beyoncé and deservingly so: she's a living legend, the definition of an icon, and one of the biggest pop talents on the planet. But perhaps not everyone should love her decision to perform live in Dubai, given the region's concerning stance on women's and LGBTQ+ rights.
On January 21, Beyoncé was booked to perform at the opening of Atlantis The Royal, a new luxury hotel in Dubai. The 41-year-old singer was reportedly paid approximately $2.5 million for the gig, which was a proper extravaganza.
Attendees — who included deep-pocketed A-listers like Hailey Bieber — were supposed to be banned from using their phones to capture footage of the concert but this is a Beyoncé show.
Everyone's gotta see it and the Beyhive was buzzing. Scratch that: the Beyhive was absolutely gushing.
And it was quite a performance indeed, with fireworks, backup dancers, and a surprise appearance from Blue Ivy, Beyoncé and JAY-Z's daughter.
And, let's be clear, this isn't about the performance.
Wearing a custom outfit designed by Ukrainian brand Frolov, Beyoncé both looked and sounded positively "urethral," as one stan page put it.
There was even an Ivy Park runway show, according to one guest.
So, this isn't about Beyoncé, the performer, this is about Beyoncé, the businesswoman.
As some commentators pointed out on Twitter, Beyoncé's decision to perform in a region with an extremely poor record on women's rights and a reputation for "hostility" against members of the LGBTQ+ community is highly questionable.
It's made even stranger by Beyoncé's decision to work with a Ukrainian designer, picking one worthy cause to support and seemingly ignoring another.
It calls to mind both the recent FIFA controversy — the World Cup was hosted by Qatar, which has its own human rights abuse cases — and Rihanna's latest Savage x Fenty runway show where, for no reason, troubled actor Johnny Depp made a cameo appearance.
Beyoncé's not alone here, of course — Lady Gaga performed in Dubai nearly a decade ago (the concert was "censored" by local authorities) and only a few weeks ago, Kylie Minogue was in Dubai to ring in 2023, dividing her fanbase.
Further, a day before Beyoncé's concert, a group of beauty influencers faced backlash for jetting off to Dubai for a weekend of social media-friendly indulgence.