Last July, Beyoncé released the long-awaited Renaissance, a multi-Grammy-nominated, critically acclaimed album that explicitly celebrated queer dance music. She has yet to announce a tour behind the album, but this weekend several journalists and celebrities could be the first to see the singer perform live for the first time since a tribute set for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in 2020. (At the Oscars last March, she aired a pre-taped performance of her King Richard song “Be Alive.”)
Due to an invitation received by many publications (including Pitchfork) from the musician’s team, the singer is hosting a luxury weekend in Dubai on January 20-22, with all expenses paid. The invitation is for the unofficial opening of Atlantis the Royal Hotel, and begins: “Beyoncé invites you to a weekend where your dreams become your goals. You and one guest are invited to epicurean feasts, beachside indulgences and special reveal experiences including business class airline tickets, first-class ground transportation and first-class accommodations at Atlantis the Royal.” A “one-off performance” is also mentioned, but without an artist associated connected is.
Many pop stars, including Blur, the Killers and Jay-Z, have performed in the United Arab Emirates since Beyoncé’s last performance in the capital, Abu Dhabi, in 2009. In recent years, however, artists have again been urged to boycott countries (and sometimes US states) with poor human rights records that some fans, including those who identify as queer, would feel unsafe about. Pearl Jam, Big Thief and Nicki Minaj have canceled shows (in North Carolina, Israel and Saudi Arabia respectively) following public protests. Despite indications that Dubai rarely enforces anti-homosexuality laws, homosexuality remains a crime punishable by death, in theory, under the United Arab Emirates constitution.
As recently as last year, Stormzy drew little criticism for appearing at a Formula 1 after-race concert in Abu Dhabi, although humanitarian organizations and some drivers have criticized the sport’s governing body for hosting races in the country.
The Dubai weekend was sparsely reported, with British tabloid The Sun reporting in December that Beyoncé was planning an hour-long gig at the city’s luxury resort, Atlantis the Royal. A source told The Sun that the Swedish House Mafia would be DJing at an after party, which is confirmed by the invitation.
Earlier this week, TMZ shared alleged footage of Beyoncé soundchecking for an event at Atlantis the Royal. The outlet speculated that Beyoncé was paid $24 million to perform in Dubai. Beyoncé’s formal involvement in the weekend and events has not yet been specified.
According to the email, activities for the weekend include dinner at Nobu Dubai, fireworks shows and a launch party for Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila. The hotel opens to the public in February.
Pitchfork emailed Beyoncé’s team for more information on this weekend’s events.