BTS Holds Concert In Saudi Arabia Amid Criticisms
Wed, April 21, 2021

BTS Holds Concert In Saudi Arabia Amid Criticisms

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman invited the South Korean boy band BTS to perform in the King Fahd International Stadium. / Photo credit by TV10/TenAsia via Wikimedia Commons



BTS is the first Korean pop group to reach number one on the US album charts, reported British public broadcaster BBC. The group boasts a devoted fan base, as they are known for their “meticulously choreographed” dance steps and “boyish good looks.”

Recently, BTS held a concert in Saudi Arabia, upon the invite by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

According to Prince Salman, he intends to socially and economically reform the country. Aside from permitting women to drive, Saudi Arabia has also loosened its grip on “many forms of entertainment.” The kingdom first allowed women to enter the King Fahd International Stadium in 2017, which was previously exclusive to men.


The ARMY Jams with BTS


Thousand of fans sang their hearts out when BTS performed “Dionysus,” “Not Today,” “Just Dance,” “Euphoria” among others. / Photo credit by JStone via Shutterstock


BTS became the first foreign artist to perform a solo stadium show in front of a sell-out crowd at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A day prior to their concert, major buildings in the city were lit up in purple, BTS’ signature color. Around 60,000 fans, most of them women, gathered at the King Fahd International Stadium to make their dreams a reality and rock out with their favorite K-pop group, described Jennifer Barretto of the UAE’s English-language newspaper Gulf News. Fans helped their fellow ARMY by arranging free shuttle buses from the city to the stadium. 

During the group’s performance, thousands of fans sang along and illuminated the whole stadium with their phones and lanterns. BTS kicked off their concert with the high energy “Dionysus.” All members were dressed in crisp white, which did little to help them cool off in the evening heat. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook finished their first song with sweat dripping from their foreheads. 

BTS swiftly followed it up with another upbeat track, “Not Today.”

“Just Dance,” the concert’s first solo number, showcased J-Hope’s masterful choreography. The BTS member was in high spirits “as he worked for the crowd and the cameras.” Afterward, Jungkook serenaded the crowd with his “airy, boy band-perfect voice” on “Euphoria.” He did not show any sign of fear despite being suspended in the air and flung “over the stadium in a platform the size of a dinner plate.” 



Jimin’s vocals complemented his choreography on his solo “Serendipity” while V’s “Singularity” went viral on Saudi Arabian social media. Jin performed “Epiphany,” putting his vocal cords to the test by successfully hitting every high note. RM, Suga, and J-Hope’s “Outro: Tear” was successfully executed, thanks to their “hard-hitting lyric delivery and beats.” The rest of the group joined in “Mic Drop.” 

There were funny moments in the concert such as Jin laughing at the “unusually short translations of their speeches” as well as the “meme-worthy reactions” of Suga. V tried to teach the fans how to do a Mexican wave, which they failed to comprehend. 

Many shared their excitement of seeing BTS perform live, thanking the group for coming to Saudi Arabia. The concert was enough to make every fan smile. BTS tried their best to entertain their audience, evidently showing no hint of jet lag or exhaustion. For fans who were not able to go to the stadium, they did not have to worry as BTS’ performance was live-streamed.”


Holding a Concert in Saudi Arabia Was Not Easy

In an interview with American digital and print magazine The Hollywood Reporter, 25-year-old rapper RM, whose real name is Kim Nam-joon, said, “I wouldn't say it was easy. But we were officially invited. It's been a while since we've performed in the Middle East.” 

Park Ji-min, also known as Jimin, added, “If there's a place where people want to see us, we'll go there. That's really how we feel.”

In July, BTS was slammed after they announced their October 11 concert in Saudi Arabia’s capital, there were those who called them out for the contradiction of the group’s tour message “Love Yourself” and the kingdom’s criminalization of homosexual relationships. 



Their announcement also came a week after American rapper Nicki Minaj canceled her concert in the country, asserting that it was important for her to support freedom of expression, women’s rights, and the LGBTQ community. In the conservative Islamic kingdom, sexual activity between same-sex individuals is illegal. Moreover, most public spaces are segregated by gender, and women’s rights are restricted.

None of the BTS members is “openly LGBTQ,” but they have been shown to be sympathetic toward the LGBTQ community, unlike other Korean pop groups who are silent with regard to such a subject. In 2013, before BTS officially debuted, RM wrote on Twitter about his appreciation for “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The song is about championing homosexual relationships. Fans also commended and celebrated BTS' collaboration with openly bisexual American artist Halsey. 

Despite their fame, BTS also showed their humility, thanking the ARMY and hoping to come back to Saudi Arabia in the future. Surely, fans from the kingdom cannot wait to see them once again!