Heavy metal band Metallica to perform in Saudi Arabia this month
American heavy metal band Metallica will perform in Saudi Arabia for the first time ever later this month.
The four-man band will perform in the capital Riyadh on December 14 as part of the three-day MDLBeast Soundstorm festival.
Launched in 2019, Soundstorm has attracted artists from around the world to perform in the conservative Gulf kingdom. Such a spectacle would have been unthinkable two decades ago.
"We're not done with 2023 yet, as an amazing opportunity has just come our way to perform at a major Festival, which we've never played, in a part of the world we rarely visit," Metallica wrote in a Facebook post.
"We are excited to announce that on Thursday December 14th we will be the first ever hard rock band to play MDLBeast's Soundstorm Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia," the post read.
Some of the group’s most listened to hits are 'Enter Sandman,' 'Nothing Else Matters,' and 'Master of Puppets.'
We’re bringing hard rock to @MDLBeast's Soundstorm Festival for the first time in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on December 14, 2023! Festival and single-day tickets are available now at https://t.co/eOt8w7j4Pz. pic.twitter.com/Uu051bGHxu— Metallica (@Metallica) November 27, 2023
Other performers at this year’s Soundstorm include Black Eyed Peas, Chris Brown, Calvin Harris, Anne Marie and more.
About 600,000 music lovers attended the festival last year, according to the organisers.
For years, Saudi Arabia - which hosts Islam's two holiest sites - has been investing heavily in entertainment and sporting events to attract tourists and help diversify its economy away from oil.
The move, despite opposition from strict Muslims, is part of a broad initiative by de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for social reform, in a country where two-thirds of the population is aged 30 and under.
The social reform however has not been accompanied by political liberalization and critics and rights groups have said the kingdom is using these huge entertainment events to whitewash its poor human rights record.