From beauty brand Tarte’s influencer trip to Beyoncé’s extravagant private concert, it’s safe to say everyone came across social media content based in Dubai recently. As some online users lived vicariously through their favorite influencers’ three-day getaway, others slammed Tarte’s marketing strategy for not reflecting the nation’s current economic downturn. However, the cosmetic brand wasn’t the only entity facing backlash, as many people questioned Beyoncé’s choice to perform in Dubai, a famously anti-LGBTQ country. Keep scrolling to learn all about the backlash facing the two highly publicized events.

Why Was There an Influencer Trip in Dubai?

Some of TikTok’s most popular influencers including Alix Earle, Monet McMichael, Meredith Duxbury and the Mian Twins flooded the social media app during their trip to Dubai, which kicked off in late January 2023.

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Alix Earle/ TikTok

In total, 50 content creators and their plus ones embarked on the lavish trip. As seen in some of the videos posted online, the attendees engaged in a handful of activities like riding camels through the desert, driving dune buggies and, of course, promoting Tarte’s new beauty products.

Why Did Tarte Receive Backlash For Their Influencer Trip?

Entertaining content aside, fans weren’t too pleased with Tarte for hosting an extravagant getaway under the current economic hardship the average person in the U.S. is facing.

Although the company did not pay the influencers to post content during the trip, Tarte – who partnered with Sephora Middle East – covered a number of expenses.

Tarte’s founder and CEO Maureen Kelly told Glossy that the influencers were “paid” by the trip itself which included a poolside villa, free makeup products and wardrobe, business class flights and camel rides.

“Am I the only one who thinks this is a really weird marketing move from Tarte? ”someone said in a January 18 TikTok video, adding, “I kind of feel they’re being a little tone-deaf. In this economy, it’s so unrelatable.”

Furthermore, it has been learned that Tarte’s “Dubai” trip didn’t even take place in the city. Instead, the multi-day event was hosted in Ras al Khaimah, which is an estimated 70 miles away from Dubai.

Did Tarte Respond to the Backlash From Their Influencer Trip?

Maureen explained the brand’s decision to host the trip, claiming that Tarte has never advertised “traditionally.”

“Every day, brands make decisions about how to spend their marketing budgets. For some companies, that means a huge Super Bowl commercial or a multi-million-dollar contract with a famous athlete or musician,” she told Vogue Business via email on January 23, 2023.

She continued, “We’ve never done traditional advertising, and instead, we invest in building relationships and building up communities. We hope that as people see what we’re doing together and what we’re all about, they’ll understand and have a stronger connection with Tarte.”

Why Did Beyoncé Get Backlash For Performing in Dubai?

While Gen Z was deeply invested in the influencer trip, millennials freaked out after learning that Beyoncé held a private performance in Dubai on January 21, 2023 – her first headlining performance in four years.

The “Summer Renaissance” singer was reportedly paid a whopping $24 million for her performance in celebration of the grand opening of the luxury resort Atlantis the Royal.

A-list celebrities and reality stars attended the show and were given a strict no-phone policy. However, attendees were able to record Beyoncé’s closing piece, which they filled the internet with.

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Raven Varona/Shutterstock

While some fans were stunned after seeing clips of the performance, others questioned why the Destiny’s Child alum accepted to perform the gig given the United Arab Emirates’ strict ban on same-sex relationships.

Beyoncé, who is a vocal LGBTQ ally, released her album Renaissance in July 2022, which she dedicated to her husband Jay-Z, kids Blue Ivy and twins Rumi and Sir, and late uncle Johnny, who was a part of the LGBTQ community.

“A big thank you to my Uncle Johnny. He was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album,” the Grammy award winner wrote to her fans at the time. “Thank you to all the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long.”

LGBTQ bar owner Lawrence Barton shared his “disappointment” in Beyoncé’s decision to perform in an anti-gay state noting, “Beyoncé is considered by the LGBTQI community as an ally.”

“But we don’t actually know whether she even considered the LGBTQI legislation over there, it might not have even been a consideration,” he told BBC on January 23, 2023.


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Tyler Cowan