Saudi Arabia is a country with a long history, dating back to at least the 1700s. With a population of over 32million people and roughly 93% of them being Muslims, the country has lots of natural resources – and an awful human rights record to go along with it.
Long-time readers of Ears To The House will know that we’ve written on the subject a few times – mostly because we think that DJs deciding to play festivals in a country that doesn’t allow free speech to its citizens and executes people for the apparent crime of being homosexual isn’t a good look.
Judging by the number of higher echelon DJs who are heading out there these days, however, it appears money is now the sole deciding factor – with conscience being reduced to a pesky inconvenience. These same DJs apparently don’t mind being used for a propaganda festival – even the Saudis know that homophobia is a bad look – so long as the bank balance gets fattened up with lots of lovely Saudi Riyals.
And whilst Ears To The House suspects that some DJs are finally starting to get the message – we notice that Carl Cox isn’t on the lineup this year, for example – there are still far too many whose appearance at the propaganda festival, which begins next Thursday, just leaves more questions than answers.
Take, for example, Nicole Moudaber. Back in the 1990s, she organised an illegal Halloween rave in Lebanon. The event attracted a large number of what would now be termed the LGBT community – and this was something the state saw as a moral outrage, leading to her being briefly imprisoned.
So has this whole event made Moudaber more aware of LGBT rights around the world – especially given she is a lesbian herself? Judging by interviews she’s given over the years, yes – but appearing at a festival designed to draw of veil of respectability over a homophobic government will inevitably raise questions.
There is also at least one male DJ on the list who is known to be gay. Now, he has never spoken about this in public, and Ears To The House isn’t in the business of exposing people’s sexuality – which is why we’ve made the decision not to name him in this article. And yet he’s on the 2023 lineup – and not for the first time, either.
The DJ in question could, quite literally, be arrested whilst out there simply because of his sexual orientation – but he won’t, simply because of the six figure fee he’s getting for playing at Soundstorm. The same cannot be said of any LGBT persons from Saudi Arabia who go to watch his set…