ABU DHABI: Please don't stop the music, Rihanna, but do cover up (?)
The organizers behind acclaimed Barbadian singer Rihanna’s planned concert in Abu Dhabi on New Year's Eve are denying media reports that the star has been told to trade in her trademark revealing, raunchy stage gear for a more wholesome look in her gig at the Emirates Palace Hotel in the emirate.
“The facts and figures recently reported around Rihanna’s Abu Dhabi concert are totally inaccurate,” said concert organizer Flash in a statement quoted by the United Arab Emirates-based English-language newspaper Gulf News.
The wardrobe row surfaced after the British tabloid the Daily Mirror claimed in a report over the weekend that Rihanna had been instructed to dress more conservatively for her show in Abu Dhabi and that the 21-year-old star was “tearing her hair out over what to do" about it.
The article also claimed Rihanna was being paid a whopping $500,000 for her performance, a sum for which the Daily Mirror said the star is likely to leave her latex body suits and extravagant bras in the closet.
So Rihanna’s team is now said to be working around the clock to somehow figure out a way to make Rihanna's daring stage outfits go along with the local traditions in Abu Dhabi, which prides itself as the more mature and conservative brother of neighboring, freewheeling Dubai.
But Rihanna's supposed scrambling for a more wholesome look so as to not upset her conservative fans might prove a challenge.
“She knows that she'll have to compromise her style to fit in with local traditions, but a huge part of her show is her sexy stage gear,” an unidentified source told the Daily Mirror.
Aside from maybe having to cover up in a sweater and a pair of jeans in her planned New Year's Eve gig, the British tabloid also suggested that Rihanna and her crew might also have to ring in the new year with soft drinks and juice instead of champagne, saying the singer may have to obtain a special license to store alcohol in her dressing room during the concert.
The incident is likely to mark this year's last wardrobe row in the Middle East, but it's certainly not the year's first.
Only two months ago, Islamic conservatives in Egypt branded pop singer Beyonce's concert in Cairo an "insolent sex party."
Hamdi Hassan, a lawmaker from the Muslim Brotherhood, reportedly submitted a written complaint about the concert to the Egyptian Interior Ministry.
He said the posters advertising the show, in which Beyonce was shown wearing a revealing outfit and gripping a pair of motorcycle handlebars extending from her hips, threatened Egypt's "social peace and stability."
-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Photos: Rihanna has supposedly been told to skip her raunchy stage gear and cover up for her show on New Year's Eve in Abu Dhabi. Credit: www.rihannanow.com. Lower image: The British tabloid paper the Daily Mirror suggests Rihanna might be performing in a sweater if conservatives in Abu Dhabi get their way. Credit: Associated Press