Los Angeles, Dec 25 (IANS): Hollywood stars including Armie Hammer, Irina Shayk, Sofia Richie, and Olivia Culpo are being slammed for taking "six-figure" amounts to attend a music festival in Saudi Arabia.
They were slammed when they started posting photographs of themselves attending the MDL Beast music festival in Riyadh on social media over the weekend without mentioning the country's controversial human rights record, online reports said.
Richie, Winnie Harlow, Alessandra Ambrosio, Joan Smalls, Shayk, Stella Maxwell, Luka Sabbat, Hammer, Scott Disick and Ryan Phillippe all shared multiple photographs in recent days that were tagged in Riyadh.
While many have not responded to the backlash, Phillippe has been lashing out at people commenting on his Instagram posts.
"Things are changing, hopefully you do too sh*thead," he wrote to one person.
"It's changing moron. Have you been? I'd love to take any woman important to me. F**k off. First of all I'm travelling many places in the mid-east. 2nd, find me a country without issues, i'll wait. 3rd things are changing and progressing rapidly in KSA and the people are lovely. pay better attention and quit virtue signalling princess," he said to another," he wrote to another.
Many have called out the tone-deaf nature of such an event in Saudi Arabia, while citing last year's killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the arrest of women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul and the treatment of LGBT residents.
Popular Instagram account, Diet Prada, named and shamed some of the celebrities present, accusing them of allegedly accepting six-figure sums for attending and geo-tagging posts to "rehabilitate the image of Saudi Arabia". Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor was also one of the celebrities to be tagged.
In his post, Hammer wrote that attending the music festival and seeing Saudi men and women excited about it "felt like a cultural shift" and "truly special".
The backlash regarding their visit came as Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death over the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.