Mariah Carey is latest superstar set to perform in Saudi Arabia

Mariah Carey will perform on Jan 31 on the sidelines of Saudi Arabia's first international golf tournament.
Mariah Carey will perform on Jan 31 on the sidelines of Saudi Arabia's first international golf tournament.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT (BLOOMBERG) - After music superstars David Guetta and Enrique Iglesias, it's time for Mariah Carey to wow audiences in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom opens up its entertainment industry to regional and international investors.

The American singer and songwriter will perform on Jan 31 on the sidelines of the country's first international golf tournament, according to Arab News, a Saudi daily.

The event will be held at King Abdullah Economic City along the Red Sea, north of the coastal city of Jeddah.

Mr Turki Al Alshikh, the newly appointed chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said this week Saudi Arabia will seek to land big theatrical productions like "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Lion King," adding that investment in the sector could create tens of thousands of jobs for Saudis.

Ms Carey would be the most high-profile female westerner to perform in the country since Crown Prince Mohammed Salman loosened the reins on the entertainment industry after assuming his de facto leadership a couple of years ago.

Women now drive after a decades-long ban was lifted, gender segregation is dissolving and cafes are filled with music, previously deemed immoral in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

But a simultaneous crackdown on dissent has led some inside the country and overseas to question whether the fun is just a distraction, a way of diverting criticism of a leadership that's growing more authoritarian.