BTS: K-pop band perform in Saudi Arabia despite criticism

Image caption,
Fans in Saudi Arabia were delighted that the group went ahead with their Riyadh show

K-pop superstars BTS have become the first foreign artists to play a solo stadium show in Saudi Arabia.

The boy band performed in front of a sell-out crowd at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh on Friday evening.

However they faced criticism for their decision to play in a country that has been condemned for human rights abuses.

BTS is one of the world's biggest acts - the first Korean pop group to reach number one on the US album charts.

Known for their meticulously choreographed dance style and boyish good looks, they boast a huge and devoted fan base.

The band had been invited to play in the country by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

A day before the concert, major buildings in the capital were lit up in BTS' signature colour purple.

Video footage from the concert shows thousands of fans singing along to BTS' music and lighting up the stadium with lanterns and their mobile phones.

Many shared their excitement at seeing their favourite band live and thanked them for coming to Riyadh.

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The concert was live-streamed for fans who were not able to be there.

Saudi Arabia has loosened restrictions on many forms of entertainment.

Prince Salman says he wants to reform the country in both social and economic terms and has already lifted the ban on women being able to drive.

Women in Saudi Arabia were only allowed into the King Fahd International Stadium in 2017.

BTS, comprised of members RM, Jungkook, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin and V, defended their decision to play in the country in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

"I wouldn't say it was easy," RM said.

Jimin added: "But we were officially invited. It's been a while since we've performed in the Middle East - I guess the last time was 2015 in Dubai. To put it simply, if there's a place where people want to see us, we'll go there. That's how we feel."

In August, singer Nicki Minaj pulled out of a concert in Saudi Arabia after telling fans she wanted to support women's rights, the LGBT community and freedom of expression.