Fans have hit out at Beyoncé for performing in Dubai for her first headline concert in five years. Geraint Vincent reports.
Beyoncé has faced backlash over her first headline concert in years, as some criticised her for performing in Dubai due to its anti-LGBT+ laws.
The singer took to the stage for her first headline concert since 2018, performing at a private hotel launch event in the United Arab Emirates.
The singer-songwriter was reportedly paid more than £19 million for her performance, equating to an estimated £211,000 per minute.
Her decision to perform in the UAE, despite its government's anti-LGBT policies, which criminalises same-sex sexual activity.
Appearing at the grand reveal of Atlantis The Royal – billed as the world’s most ultra-luxurious resort – the singer was joined by 11-year-old daughter Blue Ivy, the pair duetting on Brown Skin Girl from 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift.
Opening her 90-minute set with her cover of Etta James’s At Last, she treated the 1,500-strong crowd to fan favourites such as Crazy In Love, Naughty Girl, Halo and XO – culminating with a rendition of Drunk In Love, as fireworks lit up the sky.
Taking to the stage in a yellow sequinned gown with a sculptural feathered cape, the 41-year-old was flanked by a full band, a Middle Eastern orchestra, and dancers clad in red sequinned outfits and full skirts.
During a set that leaned heavily on songs rarely or never-before performed live, the singer chose not to debut any tracks from latest album Renaissance, which is nominated for two Grammys.
“There’s a Utopia of people from all over the world on this stage and we are so honoured to be here to celebrate this night with you,” Beyoncé said.
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“My parents are here tonight to celebrate – my mother and my father. My beautiful children are here to see me perform and my beautiful husband.”
She later changed into a red and gold bejewelled body suit with a voluminous train and completed a third costume change with a red corseted minidress with matching stockings and gloves.
The star was rumoured to have been paid US $24m (£19.4m) for the exclusive concert, attended by celebrities including Kendall Jenner, Liam Payne, Ronan Keating, Rochelle and Marvin Humes and British Vogue editor Edward Enninful.
“We’ve given her creative control. This is her art – we want her to express her art in her way,” managing director Tim Kelly said ahead of the performance.
“I can’t express to you enough the level of professionalism and discipline with the rehearsals.
“From the moment she arrived last week she was on the stage, rehearsing and performing, and she’s developing and curating a performance.
“She’s not taking a show out of the box because she doesn’t have a show in the box. You’re going to get the full-throttle Beyoncé.”
Asked if it was difficult to secure the global pop star for the launch, Mr Kelly said: “It took a long time, but it also came together rather quickly.
“It’s a circumstance of where she chooses what she wants to do. We’re honoured, we’re proud and for her to be here to do this in Dubai on this night, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“We have always expressed that this is an iconic building, and then to have the most iconic performer on the planet available today, someone who hasn’t been seen in public performing in over four years, it’s really a night of icons.”