According to a recent article from the The Guardian, media company Vice Media secretly helped the Saudi Arabian government run a music festival in 2020.
Azimuth, as the festival was called, took place at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al’Ula in the Saudi Arabian desert. Due to exorbitant ticket prices, the event was mainly attended by well-off influencers. Top talent from around the world performed at the festival, including a set from New York City duo The Chainsmokers. World-class chefs were also flown in to cook for attendees.
Vice’s involvement in the $20 million festival comes to many as a shock. In 2018, the company cut ties with the Saudis after news of their alleged involvement in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi became public. Sources say that Vice allegedly went to great lengths to keep their involvement in Azimuth a secret, as the staff were required to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Numerous employees of Vice Media have spoken of being ignored when discussing the topic, with one saying, “Vice employees have for years raised concerns over the company’s involvement with Saudi Arabia – and we’ve been fobbed off with empty statements and pathetic excuses.”
When contacted for comment, a representative from Vice defended the decision, saying “We opened a commercial and creative office in Riyadh earlier this year, which was reported and shared publicly. Our editorial voice has and always will report with complete autonomy and independence.”