Saudi Arabia was set to host the opening of a pop-up nightclub on Thursday, but it was “shut down” ahead of the arrival of its headline act.
WHITE, a Dubai-based nightclub company, had planned to open a temporary branch in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah.
It had lined up American singer Ne-Yo for its opening night, with entry costing between €71-€222 per person.
To operate within the country’s conservative rules, the company referred to the popup as a cafe, a lounge or a performance venue, which was also alcohol-free.
The dress code was listed as “smart casual”, indicating that attendees would not need to adhere to the country’s strict regulations on clothes, including the abaya worn by women.
Saudi social media users appeared split on the idea of opening the venue for its month-long residency.
Using the hashtag “disco_in_Jeddah”, many posted amusing memes about the planned opening night and asked where they could get tickets.
Others, however, maintained that the club would be a violation of Islamic codes.
Serge Trad, the communication advisor for Addmind Hospitality Group, said the pop-up’s Instagram had been shut down after it had been reported.
He said: “It was part of the negative feedback we were getting. People were angry about ‘White’ opening there.”
A short while later, the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment said in a tweet that it had opened an investigation into the event that had been a “violation of the legal proceedings” and “had not been licensed”.
The statement added that the authority had “originally issued a licence for another event”, but “its contractor then took advantage of an extension of that licence to commit these serious and unacceptable violations”.
Meanwhile, Ne-Yo posted a message on Instagram to say he had been informed of the club being shut down as he was “on the way to the venue”.
“Guess we’ll try it again another time,” he said.