“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest. While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression,” the singer said Tuesday in a statement to the Associated Press.
Minaj was originally scheduled to headline the July 18 concert. The Human Rights Foundation issued a statement last week, calling for Minaj and other performers to pull out of the show.
In Saudi Arabia, gender segregation between single men and women is still enforced in many restaurants, coffee shops, public schools and universities, but other rules have loosened with women now allowed to drive and attend events in sports stadiums.
Jeddah World Fest, which in line with Saudi laws is alcohol- and drug-free, is open to people 16 and older and will take place at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red Sea city. Other performers include former One Direction member Liam Payne and DJ-producer Steve Aoki.
Saudi organizers said the concert will be broadcast globally. The kingdom is also promising quick electronic visas for international visitors who want to attend.
Over the past several months, the kingdom has seen performances by Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias, Black Eyed Peas, Sean Paul, David Guetta and Tiesto. That’s a stark change from when Saudi morality police would raid establishments that played loud music.