Saudi Arabia is known for its strict laws against women, including gender segregation in public places

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Nicki Minaj will bring her iconic style to Saudi Arabia for the country’s Jeddah World Festival later this month.

As noted on the festival’s website, Minaj, 36, is joining Liam Payne and DJ Steve Aoki as the headliners for the event, which will take place on July 18 at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium.

The “Megatron” singer’s decision is a head-scratcher, considering the fact that Minaj’s musical style over the years does not align with Saudi Arabia’s strict conservative laws.

In 2018, female human rights activist were reportedly tortured by the Saudi Arabia government, CNN reported, and in addition to the country’s gender segregation policies, most Saudi women are also required to wear the modest full-length robe known as the abaya, along with a veil for their hair and faces.

Public spaces in Saudi Arabia are typically segregated by gender. Restaurants often separate spaces dedicated to families from those excluded for men, and married couples tend to carry an official proof of marriage in case they are stopped while walking together.

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Nicki Minaj
| Credit: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty

Unsurprisingly, Minaj quickly faced backlash for opting to perform at the controversial location, with many fans on Twitter questioning and criticizing the rapper’s decision.

“Nicki Minaj is going to Saudi…what is going on…” one Twitter user wrote, using a GIF of Kevin Hart looking extremely confused.

Another commenter added, “Oh dear , shame on her , @NICKIMINAJ how can you perform where women is treated like nothing , need permission to live, to study, can speak, women are fleeing for asylum, shame on you ! I hope they don’t arrest your dam ass, women is nothing to them ! So disappointed”

Mariah Carey faced similar backlash for opting to perform in Saudi Arabia this past February alongside Sean Paul and DJ Tiesto. Many activists called for the singer to cancel her shows, but she went on to perform anyway.

However, the country has recently made strides in gender equality, despite plenty of work still to be done. According to CNN, a 35-year ban on movie theaters was lifted, and women were given the right to drive, after strict restrictions against them.

Minaj released her latest hit song “Megatron” on June 21, which marks her first single so far this year in which she’s listed as the lead artist.

NIcki Minaj
Nicki Minaj

The rapper also confirmed in a recent appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that a new album is in store for her fans.

“There’s definitely a new album, yes, of course,” she told Fallon, 44. “You’re the first to find out. Of course there’s an album, I’m not putting out the date yet, but there is one.”

The rapper also revealed that she already has a title in mind — but she’s keeping her lips sealed for now.