Beyoncé headlines private concert at Dubai luxury hotel

Queen Bey is making a sensational return to the stage, in true Beyoncé fashion.

In a rare and exclusive concert, Beyoncé performed on stage for the opening of a new luxury hotel in Dubai, Atlantis The Royal, in an hour-long concert starting with Etta James's "At Last."

The show began on Jan. 21 with bright fireworks erupting above the massive venue and from the water, as lights began to illuminate a stage, revealing an Egyptian-themed backdrop.

Beyoncé performs on stage headlining the Grand Reveal of Dubai's newest luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal on January 21, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Atlantis The Royal)
Beyoncé performs on stage headlining the Grand Reveal of Dubai's newest luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal on January 21, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Atlantis The Royal)

The 41-year-old rose from a platform in front of a giant half sun model, dressed in a yellow and sheer bustier top with a feathered skirt and matching backpiece.

Beyoncé was joined by another icon while onstage: her daughter, Blue Ivy. According to Variety, the mother-daughter duo collaborated for “Brown Skin Girl,” with Blue Ivy dancing in a red sequined jumpsuit beside the 28-time Grammy Award winner.

Beyoncé's performance was primarily ballad focused, the publication reported, featuring hits like “Freedom,” “Spirit” and “Be Alive.” However, the singer was sure to include favorites like "Beautiful Liar" and "Naughty Girl." Reportedly, she didn't sing any songs from her 2022 album, “Renaissance.”

Beyoncé performs on stage headlining the Grand Reveal of Dubai's newest luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal on January 21, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Atlantis The Royal)
Beyoncé performs on stage headlining the Grand Reveal of Dubai's newest luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal on January 21, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Atlantis The Royal)

Some fans took to the internet after hearing news of the exclusive concert to challenge Beyoncé's choice to perform in Dubai, where there are strict laws against same-sex marriage.

According to the U.S. State Department, same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in the United Arab Emirates and penalties may include fines or imprisonment. The department also states that under interpretations of Sharia, or Islamic law, the death penalty could be used as punishment. The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General has stated, though, that no recent reports of arrests or prosecutions have taken place.

Following Beyonce's performance in Dubai, one user tweeted, "I love Bey, but you can’t release a statement album like Renaissance, celebrating LGBTQ+ community and then perform in a country that criminalizes and kills LGBTQ+. I love her still but she deserves to hear about it."

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Journalist Abigail Firth echoed this statement when speaking to the BBC, saying that the performance was a "really misguided choice for her."

However, others voiced their support for the singer, with those like @tayehive sharing a list of artists who are LGBTQ activists and also performed in Dubai.

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A number of stars, including Kendall Jenner, Rebel Wilson, Chloe and Halle Bailey and Nia Long, received a live look at the performance, Variety reported, as well as several journalists. An invitation that the music publication Pitchfork received said the singer would be hosting an all-expenses-paid luxury weekend in the United Arab Emirates from Jan. 20-22.

Halle Bailey shared a series of photos on Instagram, including a shot smiling with sister Chloe Bailey and "Blank Panther" actor Letitia Wright. The "Little Mermaid" star captioned the post, "enjoyed beyonce day in dubai," with a cry-laughing face, celebratory horn and red heart emojis.

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All phones were banned from the event, according to Variety, and no one was allowed to take photos or videos of the concert. At the after-party, however, attendees were allowed their phones back and treated with complimentary Moët champagne and a performance from Swedish House Mafia.

The iconic artist gave her last performance in February 2020, when she sang at Kobe and Gianna Bryant's celebrate of life. Though not live, she aired a pre-taped video of her song "Be Alive" for the movie "King Richard" at the 2022 Oscars. Despite her summer 2022 album release, Beyoncé has yet to announce a corresponding tour.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com