Skip to main content

'Keep your eyes on Sudan, too': Activists urge Macklemore to cancel Dubai concert

Social media users have ramped up pressure on the US rapper to cancel his upcoming performance in the UAE, citing its role in Sudan's bloody conflict
US rapper and singer Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, aka Macklemore, performs on stage at the Zenith Paris on 18 April 2023 (Anna Kurth/ AFP)

It was early May when the Grammy Award-winning US rapper Macklemore released his now viral pro-Palestine track condemning Washington's support for Israel's devastating war on Gaza.

“What is threatening about divesting and wanting peace?" the rapper said in Hind's Hall, a track that has now become a pro-Palestine anthem and amassed tens of millions of views across various platforms.

"The problem isn't the protests, it's what they're protesting/ It goes against what our country is funding/ Block the barricade until Palestine is free," the rapper added.

Now, almost a month after its release, social media users are calling on Macklemore to cancel an upcoming concert in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to the country’s role in Sudan's civil war.

"I keep checking to see if Macklemore has cancelled his show in Dubai. I just think of how backward his message will become if he genuinely intends to perform Hind's Hall there," said one user on X, formerly Twitter, regarding the concert slated for 4 October in Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


"Speaking out against a genocide against one group while directly funding the genocide of another," the user added.

The UAE has been accused of being actively involved in the conflict, which the UN calls "one of the world's worst humanitarian tragedies in recent memory".

Abu Dhabi has faced allegations of funding the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary force rights groups say is responsible for the killing, raping, looting, and the ethnic cleansing of Massalit and other non-Arab populations in West Darfur. In May, Human Rights Watch said the violence could constitute genocide.

The UAE has previously denied "supplying weapons or ammunition to any of the warring factions in Sudan".

Last week, Dutch think tank the Clingendael Institute warned that around two and a half million people could die from hunger in Sudan by September due to logistics disruptions caused by the conflict, depleted harvests, a drop in imports and soaring food prices.

"In the same way that we won't accept 'support' from pro-Assad clowns, we cannot tolerate pro-Palestine activists who cosy up to the UAE," another user said.

"The people of Sudan deserve every shred of support we can give. Macklemore must cancel his show in the UAE."

Some users called for bigger boycotts of the UAE, as well as a "spamming" campaign on the social media accounts of the rapper, who has been vocal in his support for Palestine, often repeating: "liberation and freedom and equality for all human beings" in his concerts.

"Macklemore is going to perform in the UAE, where they’re funding the genocide of the Sundanese people, and this is him after dropping Hind's Hall! Cancel the performance if you care about social justice!" another user said while sharing a TikTok video summarising the UAE's role in the conflict.

"I don't know if you know about Dubai, but Dubai gets gold from Sudan," the TikTok creator said in their video.

The video highlighted a recent investigation by Swissaid that found that the UAE was the leading recipient of illicit gold smuggled out of the African continent every year, taking advantage of the nearly 80 percent of annual African artisanal gold production that is not officially declared.

A few social media users invited the rapper to educate himself about the war in Sudan, tagging the artist in the comments of tweets that explained the situation.

Macklemore was initially hesitant to make bold statements in October 2023 at the beginning of Israel’s war on Gaza.

Later, speaking during a pro-Palestine rally in Washington, DC, in November, he said: "They told me to be quiet, they told me to do my research... I've gone back and I've done some research, and I'm teachable and I don't know enough, but I know enough to know that this is a genocide."

MEE contacted the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Youth for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.