Internationally known DJ David Guetta has made a home for himself in the Persian Gulf.
The French DJ is a resident of the United Arab Emirates, where he has performed multiple times — the latest being on the helipad at the landmark Burj Al Arab hotel, and was one of the first artists invited to perform in Saudi Arabia when the kingdom opened its doors to tourists and began allowing concerts and entertainment. Guetta is performing in Saudi Arabia again on Sunday (Dec. 19).
Guetta performed in Saudi Arabia’s Formula-E in 2018 and then a year later at the MDLBeast music festival in the capital of Riyadh. Marketed as the region’s biggest music event, the festival has drawn backlash for whitewashing Saudi Arabia’s image. Celebrities and influencers came under scrutiny for promoting a country widely accused of human rights abuses. Guetta is making his second appearance at the festival on Sunday.
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Speaking to The Associated Press ahead of his Saudi gig, Guetta defended his participation.
“I don’t play for politicians, I play for people, and you know if I’m not able to, if I would need to be playing only in countries where I’m totally agreeing with the leaders,” he said from the Louvre Abu Dhabi where he was recording a set for a New Year’s Eve show that will be streaming on the night.
If he were restricted to certain countries for political reasons, Guetta added, “I would probably stay home.”
MDLBeast Soundstorm’s first edition featured performances by J Balvin, Steve Aoki and Guetta among others, while the 2021 edition has the likes of Tiesto, Martin Garrix, Guetta, and DJ Snake on the ticket. In 2019, Instagram and TikTok were afloat with pictures of celebrities, models, and influencers posing in different parts of Saudi Arabia.
The posts attracted controversy and human rights groups scrutinized celebrities for marketing the country without speaking about its human rights’ record. Some celebrities later said they were paid to post about the event. Reports circulating on social media at the time claimed that some influencers and artists were paid high fees for the visits.
“I’m not saying what I’m saying because I was getting paid, I’m getting paid in any country, you know I can make money in Saudi, in America, in Europe, in Latin America,” Guetta said.