United Arab Emirates: Anger at Risqué Madonna Concert

Madonna kicked off her MDNA Tour on June 1 and performed her debut concert in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on June 3 and 4. The concert prompted controversy for the sexual themes and Madonna's revealing costumes.

Performers in Muslim countries usually face opposition from the conservative factions of those societies; Lady Gaga's concert in Indonesia was cancelled recently amid pressure by conservatives and hardliners.The timing was also not appropriate as the event came after the Houla Massacre in Syria. Madonna was slammed by Twitter users for various reasons.

UAE dress code

Fashion designer Hala Zadeh summarized the sequence of events in her tweet:

@halaZadeh: Getting Madonna to Abu Dhabi, knowing who she is, then criticize her and trash her everywhere!

There is no law regarding dress codes in the Emirates but efforts have been put in place to make a dress code law.

Savannah NOT Banana said:

@EasyAsPieMmmPie: You know who else didn't care about #UAEDressCode? Madonna, in Abu Dhabi, or anywhere really

Blatant exposition of Christian symbols

As the Arabian Peninsula is the birthplace of Islam, it is sometimes considered offensive to expose symbols of other religions in a blatant way. Madonna used crosses of different sizes as stage props and the concert was started by ringing bells, chants and monks. Khaled Hammadi tweeted:

@kwhammadi: ‏: صليب كبير في جزيرة العرب من أجل راقصة خبيثة ،، يا أبناء زايد : أليس فيكم رجل رشيد !! #مادونا_تراقص_جراحنا
@kwhammadi: A big cross in the Arabian Peninsula for a wicked dancer.. You sons of Zayed, isn't there a wise man amongst you!!

Saudi netizen Mansour Al-Harethi tweeted:

@mr_mns: #مادونا_تراقص_جراحنا‬ دكتورإماراتي يخفف علينا ويقول مادوناكانت محتشمة ولم يرالسيدالجو الكنائسي الذي افتتحت به حفلتها بدلامن ان نقنت لاخوتنا
@mr_mns: An Emirati professor tries to relieve us and says Madonna's [clothes] were modest and he didn't see the church atmosphere with which she started her concert instead of praying for our brothers [in Syria]

Alleged affiliation with the illuminati

Madonna's concert showed religious imagery. Hamad Al-Shirawi tweeted acknowledging Madonna's alleged links with the Illuminati:

@Hamad_AlShirawi: No more crazy illuminati concerts please. #Madonna


Expatriate blogger Pam posted:

I am no prude, but she pushed the limits. I am sure some people who attended, and perhaps some leaders of this country who got wind of what went down were not very happy with her. There is nothing directed at Islam in the show that I could see, but I am sure her kissing a woman and the cross dressing dances didn’t go over well among other things.


At the beginning of the concert, Madonna addressed the crowd calling them “sons of a bitch.” Saudi Sheikh Khaled Al-Saqaby tweeted:

@KhaledAlSaqaby: #مادونا_تراقص_جراحنا‬‏ الإعلام القذر هو الذي أسهم في تقبل خمسة وعشرين ألف للقب(أبناء العاهرة )فقد أسهم خلال سنوات طويلة إلى إماتة الغيرة
@KhaledAlSaqaby: Dirty media are the ones that participated in making 25,000 people accept the label (sons of a bitch) as they have contributed for many years to kill the pride

American Expatriate blogger Thomas O'Hara posted:

I'm told that her first song was in HEBREW and that she spewed profanities during the entire show. A common ex-pat would be thrown in jail for years for that kind of public behavior.

Bad timing

The concert was held soon after the Houla Massacre in Syria. Emirati Twitter users said it was not time for rejoice and partying. They organized an online campaign using the Twitter hash tag [ar] ‎‫#مادونا_تراقص_جراحنا‬‏ (#Madonna_Dances_On_Our_Wounds).

Blogger Mohamed Alfraj posted [ar]:

مادونا المغنية الأمريكية المعتزلة من عشر سنين تحيي ليلة واحدة من عمرها الثمين بعشرة ملايين دولار فقط لا غير، ومعها جوقة صلبانها ورهبانها وطقوسها الكنسية، لم تفلح اعتراضات غيورين كثر عزّ عليهم أن تطغى صرخات العاهرة على صراخ من تبقى من أطفال سوريا، وأنين الموجوعات المفجوعات بأزواجهن وأولادهن وعفافهن في منعها، والمفاجأة المحزنة حين تقاتل الناس على التذاكر التي بلغت قيمتها أكثر من ألف درهم، وتحديدا ثلاث مائة دولار للواحدة، وتقاطروا من كل صوب، فقدر الجمهور باثنين وعشرين ألف رجل وامرأة..
Madonna, the American retired American singer who has been retired for 10 years, performs during one night of her precious life for only US $10 million and not more. With her were the group of her crosses and chorus of monks and church rituals. The opposition of many people, who didn't want the bitch's cries to overwhelm the screams of the remainder of Syria's children and the agony of the chaste mothers who lost their husbands and children, was unsuccessful. And the sad surprise was when people fought for tickets valued at more than 1,000 dirhams each, exactly 300 dollars, and flocked from every direction. The audience number was estimated at 22,000 men and women

Emirati blogger Ibrahim Alharam expressed his disappointment at the campaign failure tweeting:

@IbrahimAlharam: في المملكة استجاب التجار لنداءات الشباب السعودي وتم ‎‫#إلغاء_اللقاء_العار‬‏ ! مع الروس ولكن في وطني تركت ‎‫#مادونا_تراقص_جراحنا‬‏ !
@IbrahimAlharam: In the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] tradesmen responded to the calls of Saudi youth for cancellation of the shameful meeting with the Russians but in my homeland they allowed #Madonna_To_Dance_On_Our_Wounds

However, Emirati blogger Ahmed Al-Gargaoui posted that Madonna's performance is controversial by nature:

We all know the hype Madonna has created, however regardless of all the fuss people have created over Madonna coming to Abu Dhabi.. I believe she performed beautifully, we all know the Madonna brand is controversial so if you do not want to associate yourself with it or dislike, simply don't just like an over 18 film at the cinema, don't go see it if it offends you.[…] I think this country is led by great men and they wouldn't allow her to perform if her content was extremely controversial or insulting.


  • Salem

    Before Madonna there were Beyounce, Shakira, Metallica and more all of them are not Muslims and all of them done something against our religion Islam, did someone say something ?

    If they are talking about the dress code that Madonna did not respect how about Beyounce when she sang in front of thousands in the same arena wearing what was look like a swimwear and Shakira when she was dancing in a sexy way which is not related to Islam too did someone say something ?

    How about Metallica, their name, songs and their believes are against every single thing in islam did someone say something ?

    How about all the parties here in UAE private and non private with a shameful things happening on them from dresses code to drinks, how about the continuing beach concerts in Atlantis with a huge numbers of people dancing on the sands wearing almost nothing.

    How about BodaBar restaurant in Dubai the name, a God to some dis believers and non muslims and yes they worship it there in the restaurant with a huge fetish or statue of Boda.
    If Madonna concert theme bothers you, Churches everywhere in UAE, crosses too it’s not a matter of size. Big or small cross, both of them have the same meaning, why it’s not bothering you.
    A lot of men and women all over UAE wearing disrespect clothes to Islam IN public places and also in Ramadan.
    Talking about what going on in Syria and Madonna singing in Abu Dhabi, then why the stupid shows in our Muslims countries are still going on, like arab idol, arab got talent, Tara ta ta and more isn’t that a shame too.
    All of the above and more are fine with us but Madonna No No she’s very bad. Grow up people they brought Madonna here and they knew her very well and they knew that this is her way in talking in all of her shows. She did not disrespect UAE this is her personality if she did so she will not said on her second day concert to the crowd ” you have me, I am yours” I am not defending Madonna but this is the truth.

  • […] and the UAE Dress Code One of the things that prompted criticism towards Madonna's recent concerts in Abu Dhabi is its costumes. Writer Sandra Hiari […]

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