Racy Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe to perform in Saudi Arabia for first time

Racy Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe to perform in Saudi Arabia for first time
Lebanese songstress Haifa Wehbe, who has previously courted controversy for performances deemed too sexy, will be performing in the Gulf kingdom for the first time next week.
2 min read
22 October, 2022
Haifa Wehbe's controversial musical career spans two decades [Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty]

Haifa Wehbe is to perform in Saudi Arabia for the first time next week, alongside fellow Lebanese songstress Elissa.

The two singers - among the most famous in the Arab world - will perform in the Gulf kingdom's capital on 28 October, as part of the 2022 edition of state-sponsored entertainment festival Riyadh Season.

"I'm very happy because my dream is coming true and I will meet the Saudi audience for the first time in Riyadh," Wehbe tweeted earlier this week.

The conservative Gulf kingdom seems an unlikely setting for a concert by Wehbe, who has sparked controversy for performances and outfit choices deemed by some to be inappropriately sexy.

But since Muhammad bin Salman became crown prince in 2017, Saudi Arabia has tried hard to present itself as a venue for major international cultural and sporting events of all stripes.

Nevertheless, the country has been unable to shake off its reputation as a prolific abuser of human rights. It has continued to throw government critics in jail for lengthy periods of time, or even has them killed.

Critics of Saudi Arabia's rulers say Riyadh is using arts and sports events to clean up its image.

One widely-shared tweet alleged that during the concert, Saudi authorities would ensure calls to prayer would be quietened down so as not to interrupt proceedings.

The New Arab could not independently verify the claim.