The dance music world is in a strange place nowadays. On the one hand, artists frequently try to parade how trendy and woke their views of the world allegedly are – whilst these same artists often have no hesitation accepting money from all kinds of dubious quarters.
As Ricky Gervais so accurately said to a room full of celebrities at the Golden Globes in January 2020, “if ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent.”. It’s the same with DJs in the dance music world – some of them will quite literally take work anywhere which pays. When Peggy Gou once mentioned she would play in North Korea, rest assured many higher echelon DJs nodded in agreement.
Earlier this week, BBC News ran a detailed report on executions in Saudi Arabia. Whereas the death penalty used to be a common punishment across the world, far fewer countries use it now – but Saudi Arabia has defied the trend and massively increased its use of the practice, nearly doubling the numbers since 2015.
The report discusses the case of Mustafa al-Khayyat. He was executed by the regime in March 2022, alleged to have committed terrorism offences. Al-Khayyat supposedly signed a confession admitting to his crimes – after being kept in solitary confinement for six months beforehand. And to top if off? No one has a clue where his remains are, meaning a burial is impossible.
This is just one account of many. Human Rights Watch detail countless claims of people being given prison terms completely out of proportion with the alleged crime. There’s little doubt as to the scale of brutality which takes place in Saudi Arabia today – but there’s also no denying it is a very rich country keen to show off its wealth.
And where there is money, there are DJs more than willing to come and get that money. The likes of Jeff Mills, Nicole Moudaber, Carl Cox and Charlotte De Witte are a small sample of those who have played in the country for a huge pay check – and we make no apologies whatsoever to the four of them for the picture accompanying this article.
State sanctioned murder and torture isn’t enough to get any of them to stop playing there – and Ears To The House questions whether anything ever would. Just don’t expect the dance music press to ask any questions on this topic – they’re almost as big a fan of Saudi money as Carl Cox is…