Bruno Mars, Post Malone, DJ Khaled, and other prominent North American and European artists — as well as Nigerian Afrobeats star Wizkid — are set to perform at Soundstorm in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on the first weekend of December. The music festival is scheduled to begin on Thursday, December 1 and end on Saturday, December 3. Other acts on the lineup include David Guetta, DJ Snake, Steve Aoki, Afrojack, Benny Benassi, Damian Lazarus, Marshmello, R3hab, Hardwell, Tiësto, and Michael Kiwanuka, whose wholesome brand of alt-soul feels out of place on the EDM-heavy list.
In recent months, western artists who have opted to play in Saudi Arabia have faced criticism due to the country’s history of human rights abuses and censorship. Nicki Minaj dropped out of Jeddah World Fest in 2019, citing her concerns about the country’s poor women’s and LGBTQ rights records. And Hatice Cengiz, whose fiance Jamal Kashoggi was murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in 2018 after criticizing the country’s crowned prince Muhammad bin Salman, wrote a Washington Post op-ed in November 2021 urging Justin Bieber to call off his performance at the Formula One Grand Prix in Jeddah the following month. That concert went ahead as planned in spite of the campaign to stop Bieber from playing it. Guetta and Tiësto also performed that day, as did Jason Derulo and A$AP Rocky.