Ignoring protests and threats of an ISIS attack, Mariah Carey plays a gig in Saudi Arabia. And she’s not alone.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries on the planet, one of the harshest places for women, and a horrible abuser of human rights. Yet Mariah Carey has no trouble taking money from the oppressors. ISIS be damned, too.

Today, Carey plays a gig at King Abdullah Economic City in conjunction with the first-ever Saudi International Golf Tournament. DJ Tiesto, rapper Sean Paul and Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees Fathi. (Hey, isn’t Saudi Arabia at war in Yemen?)

Despite protests by human rights activists–and threats by ISIS to attack the concert because it promotes un-Islamic values–the gig is going ahead as scheduled.

Mariah’s rep defended the situation this way: “When presented with the offer to perform for an international and mixed gender audience in Saudi Arabia, Mariah accepted the opportunity as a positive step towards the dissolution of gender segregation. As a female songwriter with a message of empowerment and equality, she looks forward to bringing inspiration and encouragement to all audiences.”

Mariah has no trouble taking money from repressive regimes and dictators. Back in 2008, she played for the Gadhafi family on New Year’s Eve. “Oops,” she said later.

She’s not alone, either.

James Brown: The Godfather of Soul appeared at a festival in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) organized by the ultra-corrupt Mobuto Sese Seko, a guy who would embezzled $5 billion from his own country.

Queen: When no one would play gigs in South Africa during apartheid, Queen had no issues playing in Sun City in 1984, the casino resort for the white and rich.

Lionel Ritchie: He was hired to play in front of Moammar Gahdafhi’s bombed out compound in 2006.

Nelly Furtado: She received $1 million from the Gahdhafi clan to play a show at an Italian hotel. When she found out she was behind the gig, she pledged to donate the money to charity.

Beyonce: She took big money for playing a private gig in St Barts for the family of Moamar Gahdhafi. To be fair, she later donated the money she received from that engagement. That same show featured Usher and 50 Cent, who likewise donated his fee to charity. All were said to have been paid $1 million.

Sting: In 2010, he was hired to perform for Gulnara Karimoava, the daughter of the president of Uzbeskistan. Tickets reportedly cost $1,000 and his fee was $2 million.

Kanye West: When asked to perform at the 2013 wedding of the grandson of Kazahk president Nursultan Nazarbayez, he said “Show me the money.” They did and he played.

Jennifer Lopez: In 2010, she as offered $3 million to play in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus but was shamed into canceling it. But in 2013, she sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan. This guy is almost as bad at Kim Jong-Il in the way he treats his people.

Nicki Minaj: She played a gig in Angola in 2015 to perform for a company called Unitel, shares of which are owned by the corrupt president José Eduardo dos Santos. She got $2 million for the her trouble.

Want to go deeper? What can we say about the Manic Street Preachers (2001), Audioslave (2005) and the Rolling Stones (2016) playing in Cuba?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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