MDL Beast Festival took place over the weekend with high prile B2B sets to attract the masses — but the event hasn’t come and gone without some major controversy.
Instagram influencers and publications are receiving backlash for promoting the Saudi Arabian dance music event. MDL Beast followed through like a typical EDM festival. However, some believe the country uses events like this to put a bandaid on its troubling stance on human rights.
Following the killing Saudi journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi in 2018, the country reportedly invested close to $3 billion in entertainment to attract tourists back to the area. Similar events have reportedly paid out artists up to six times more than usual to perform in the country.
Similarly to Fyre Festival, influencers were reportedly paid handsomely — up to six figures — to promote, even attend the event, and take glamorous photos on site.Famous actors like Armie Hammer and Ryan Phillippe were in attendance at MDL Beast. Also, Sia Richie, Scott Disick, Ed Westwick, Alessandra Ambrosio and Winnie Harlow.
Hammer event went as far to call it a “cultural shift.”
In the video below, Instagram account Diet Prada certainly doesn’t sugarcoat the controversy. “Cashing big fat checks in exchange for #content creation (aka propaganda) to rehabilitate the image Saudi Arabia.”