The Guardian newspaper said Vice had secretly organized the Azimuth Festival in the Saudi desert, as part of its media campaign to make money in the Middle East, despite Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record.
And the British newspaper explained in a report yesterday, Wednesday, that when social media influencers appeared at the Azimuth Music Festival in the middle of the Saudi desert, they had received promises of a music and gastronomic surplus festival, backed by the Saudi government.
But what the attendees did not know was that the cherished Saudi music festival was secretly organized by global youth media company Vice, as part of the media company’s ongoing efforts to make money in this Middle Eastern country, despite the country’s poor human rights record, according to the newspaper.
And only 3 years after Vice announced that it was temporarily freezing all business in Saudi Arabia due to the repercussions of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, people close to the company told the newspaper that it was once again aggressively seeking job opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
One of the deputy employees said, “For years, the deputy staff members have raised concerns about the company’s involvement with Saudi Arabia. We have been ridiculed with empty statements and pathetic excuses.”
Although the festival received little publicity in the Western media, especially since it happened at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, it is believed that it was very profitable for Vice. The company’s employees estimate that the total budget was $20 million.
The newspaper pointed out that the event promised to combine the best of oriental culture (it took place between ancient carvings at the Al-Ula World Heritage site on a historic trade route), with the best of Western culture (and a two-dance show featured).
The Guardian confirmed that the electronic music line-up was led by Frenchman Jean-Michel Jarre, who appeared alongside rapper Tiny Tempa.
While distinguished chefs were flown in from restaurants such as Michelin-starred Contra in New York and Annabelle’s in London to cook for guests.
Contemporary British artist Lauren Baker has joined conceptual studio Shuster + Moseley to present special art shows.
Despite this, efforts were made to keep Vice’s name out of the way. The newspaper confirmed that the contractors who worked in the music festival were asked to sign a non-disclosure document. Vice’s name has not appeared on public marketing materials.
The Guardian pointed out that Saudi Arabia desperately needs to spend big money to remake its brand in the eyes of young Westerners, and Vice, despite its anti-cultural roots, is now an aging company that needs to improve its financial position quickly.
Source: The Guardian
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