Sir Rod Stewart, one of the music industry’s enduring legends, recently made headlines by turning down a highly lucrative offer to perform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and he didn’t do it without a significant reason.
In an Instagram post, Rod Stewart shared the rationale behind his decision to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia. He stated, “I’m grateful that I have a choice whether or not to perform in Saudi Arabia. So many citizens there have extremely limited choices – women, the LGBTQ community, the press.” His statement continued, “I’d like my choice not to go… to shine a light on the injustices there and ignite positive change.”
As of now, the exact amount Rod Stewart was offered for the performance in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains undisclosed. However, insider sources hinted to Billboard that it was a substantial sum.
“Sir Rod Stewart has once again turned down one of the most lucrative concert offers of his career to perform in Saudi Arabia. Citing his ‘moral compass in making the decision,’ Stewart chose to refuse the offer over the kingdom’s long history of human rights abuses, including discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ people, and of silencing its critics.”
This wasn’t the first time Stewart declined an opportunity to perform in regions with a history of human rights abuses. In 2022, he also turned down a more than $1 million offer to perform in Qatar, a nation known for its human rights and labor abuses, as well as discrimination and harassment against the LGBTQ community and women.
The same source mentioned that while the Saudi Arabia offer was “one of the most lucrative of Stewart’s career, it wasn’t the biggest he has received.”
Stewart’s stance isn’t unique among artists, as several prominent figures in the music industry have chosen to avoid performing in regions associated with human rights controversies. Nicki Minaj, for instance, withdrew from the Jeddah World Festival in Saudi Arabia to support the LGBTQ movement. Beyoncé faced criticism earlier this year for her $24 million performance in Dubai, and Justin Bieber was urged to cancel his 2021 show in Saudi Arabia but ultimately went ahead with it. These decisions reflect artists’ growing recognition of their influence and their willingness to use it to address important issues beyond music.