Vice Organized $20 Million Saudi Government Festival in 2020 (Report)

Vice Media kept its involvement in the pricey festival quiet, per the Guardian

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Vice Media organized a festival with the Saudi government in 2020, according to a new report from the Guardian. The budget was estimated at around $20 million.

Per the Guardian, Vice Media kept its involvement in the music and food festival quiet, but wanted to continue making money in the Middle Eastern state in spite of its poor record on human rights.

One anonymous Vice staffer quoted in the story said, “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.”

The lineup for the event included the Chainsmokers, Tinie Tempah and more. High-end chefs came to the country to prepare food for attendees, there were custom art displays and social media influencers were given the opportunity to dance and eat among it all.

Though the performers, chefs, artists and guests were all big names, Vice worked to keep its own name off of materials related to the event, according to the report. Its creative marketing agency, Virtue, reportedly asked contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Representatives for Vice and Virtue did not immediately return a request for comment on the story.

In 2018, Vice Media vowed to review its existing business deal with Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Vice was in the middle of a partnership with a Saudi Arabian publishing group, producing small documentaries on the country, at the time. Vice Media opened its first office in Saudi Arabia last April.