The seven-piece K-pop band wowed local Saudi fans at the 70,000 seat King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh. Speaking at times in perfect Arabic, the polished South Korean mega-stars captivated the predominantly muslim audience in a venue that has only recently allowed women.
Prior to 2017, women would have been unable to attend such an event, but as the Kingdom slowly leans to a slightly more liberal future, it saw huge numbers of both male and female fans enjoying the pop spectacle. The show was also available to view on-line with a live-stream and video-on-demand option for those unable to make it to the actual arena.
The decision to play in Saudi Arabia hadn't been without controversy however, with some critics online pointing out the BTS message of inclusivity runs contrary to Saudi Arabia's core conservative religious values.
Rather than using their platform to denounce the Saudi regime’s abuses, BTS chose to whitewash the regime’s human rights violations by performing in Riyadh today.
HRF calls on celebrities to think twice before endorsing authoritarian regimes. https://t.co/843nov1R2i— Human Rights Foundation (@HRF) October 11, 2019
RM, the mercurial leader of the South Korean boy band openly spoke out about their concert in Saudi Arabia, reflecting somewhat on its checkered human rights record, the 25 year old RM plainly stated, “I wouldn’t say it was easy,” his English having been perfected through repeat viewings of American sitcom, ‘Friends’, “But we were officially invited..." by Saudi Crown Prince MBS.
Nothing controversial there!
“If there’s a place where people want to see us, we’ll go there. That’s really how we feel,” added the diplomatic 23 year old singer Jimin, who also happened to be the recipient of an impromptu happy birthday chant near the end of the concert.
BTS, who began their stratospheric rise in South Korea in 2013, humbly handing out flyers to free shows before maximising their sugary sweet international appeal and becoming the biggest pop group on the planet. The guys have gone on to generate billions of dollars in revenue and smash all sorts of records while doing so, with the reasons for that success on full display during their one-off concert in Riyadh.
Jungkook, Jimin, V, Suga, Jin, RM, and J-Hope are definitely greatful for their fans, with the band effusively thanking the BTS ARMY, as fans are called, and vowing to return to the Middle East very soon.
BTS are currently enjoying a five-week break from their current "Love Yourself" world tour, before resuming later this month in South Korea.
Watch the BTS 'Boy With Luv' video featuring Halsey below: