Why Are Scott Disick, Irina Shayk, and More Celebs Being Slammed for Attending the MDL Beast Festival in Saudi Arabia?

If you’ve taken a look at social media lately, then you might have seen that several celebrities and influencers were recently living it up overseas in Saudi Arabia at the MDL Beast Festival.

Although documenting time in exotic locations is a norm for many celebrities, the stars who attended this particular festival are now being faced with a ton of backlash.

Scott Disick
Scott Disick | Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Major celebrities and influencers were at the MDL Beast Festival

Many famous faces came together in Saudi Arabia to attend and promote the MDL Beast Festival, which ran from Dec. 19 to Dec. 21. The official website described the event as “a three day festival bringing together the best in electronic music, performing arts and culinary craft.”

The famous attendees included Scott Disick, Sofia Richie, Irina Shayk, Winnie Harlow, Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn, Elsa Hosk, Ryan Phillippe, Luka Sabbat, Wilmer Valderrama, and many more.

During their weekend in Saudi Arabia, many celebrities documented their trip with posts mentioning the festival.

While this didn’t seem like a big deal to some people, others had a huge problem with these stars promoting a festival that took place in a country that has a history of denying its citizens basic human rights.

Instagram account Diet Prada dragged celebrities for attending the festival and alleged that the Saudi Arabian government might have paid them to “positively promote travel and events” as a way to “rehabilitate the image” of the country. With their social media posts, the celebrities did paint Saudi Arabia as fun and exciting.

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What’s worse than an all white @revolve influencer trip? Cashing big fat checks in exchange for #content creation (aka propaganda) to rehabilitate the image of Saudi Arabia, a country said to be causing “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, according to the United Nations. According to anonymous sources, six-figure sums were offered for attendance and geo-tagged posts. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Following the government’s pre-meditated murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi in October 2018 , the arrest of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul in May 2018, the outing of a gay Saudi journalist and his partner who began receiving death threats from their families (homosexuality is a crime in Saudi Arabia and punishable by death), and countless other human rights abuses, a bevy of supermodels, influencers, celebrities, and musicians convened in Riyadh for the inaugural @mdlbeast . According to @hypebeast , the electronic music festival is “one of the most significant musical events the region has ever seen”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Saudi Arabia has been spending billions to change its image in the west, but this is sure to be the most expensive campaign yet. In a series of Instagram stories posted by transgender model @teddy_quinlivan , it was revealed that fellow model @emrata had turned down the trip, evidently aware of the country’s human rights crisis. “It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press. I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there”, said Ratajkowski in a statement to Diet Prada. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Unfortunately, not all shared the same sentiments. There are simply too many attendees to name. Dieters, feel free to tag any attendees you know of… just in case they haven’t been reading the news. • #propoganda #jamalkashoggi #humanrights #humanrightsabuse #lgbtq #lgbtqrights #freespeech #journalism #independent #womensrights #mdlbeast #edm #electronicmusic #supermodel #influencer #content #riyadh #emrata #emilyratajkowski #teddyquinlivan #model #celebrity #dj #electronicmusic #musicfestival #wtf #smh #government #corruption #dietprada

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Saudi Arabia is known for its many injustices

Once fans saw these celebrities trying to make Saudi Arabia seem like an enjoyable place to visit, many of them took to social media to point out the many injustices that are happening there.

From sexual harassment and crimes against women to using capital punishment against the LGBTQ community and prohibiting free speech, people noted that Saudi Arabia is a very controversial place.

There were some celebrities who skipped the event due to their support for human rights.

Model Emily Ratajkowski recently took to Twitter to address her decision not to attend the MDL Beast Festival. “I have always wanted to visit Saudi Arabia, but when a recent opportunity came to me involving making and promoting an appearance there, I had to decline,” she wrote. “It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press. I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there.”

According to E! News, Martha Hunt also declined her invite to the festival but has yet to share her reason for not attending.