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Dubai Denies Plans for R. Kelly Concert03/24 10:49

   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Dubai's government on Sunday forcefully 
denied a claim by R&B singer R. Kelly that the artist had planned concerts 
in the sheikhdom after he had sought permission from an Illinois judge to 
travel here despite facing sexual-abuse charges.

   In a rare statement, the government's Dubai Media Office also denied claims 
by his lawyer in court that Kelly had plans to meet the sheikhdom's ruling Al 
Maktoum family.

   "Authorities in Dubai have not received any request for a performance by 
singer R. Kelly nor are there any venues that have been booked," the statement 
said.

   It added Kelly "has not been invited by the Dubai royal family for a 
performance."

   In an email to The Associated Press, Kelly's lawyer Steven A. Greenberg 
responded saying: "Mr. Kelly had a signed contract with a legitimate promoter, 
and any information that was included in the motion to travel was from that 
contract. We did not say he was invited by The royal family, but the contract 
did provide that he would make himself available to meet with them."

   Kelly was charged on Feb. 22 with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse for 
allegedly assaulting three girls and one adult woman, coming after the release 
of a documentary "Surviving R. Kelly." He has denied ever abusing anyone.

   In a court filing last week, Greenberg had said the singer needed to raise 
money as "he has struggled of late to pay his child support and other child 
related expenses."

   "Before he was arrested Mr. Kelly had signed a contract to perform between 
3-5 shows in Dubai, UAE, in April 2019," the court filing read. "He requests 
permission to travel to Dubai for the shows. While there he is supposed to meet 
with the royal family."

   The filing did not elaborate on where Kelly was allegedly supposed to 
perform. There was no immediately publicized event for which Kelly was known to 
be a performer, nor did anyone in the entertainment industry hear about one.

   However, Dubai's luxury nightclubs often host hip hop and other artists for 
days at a time to perform and be seen among the millionaires of this 
skyscraper-studded city that is home to the world's tallest building. Rich 
families also pay for celebrities at their parties.

   The UAE's seven emirates are overseen by hereditary rulers who hold absolute 
power. Dubai's ruler is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 69. His 
36-year-old son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, serves as Dubai's crown 
prince and is next in line to be ruler.

   Dubai, home to the world's largest manmade archipelago the Palm Jumeriah and 
an indoor ski slope in its desert climes, has long drawn celebrities craving 
both luxury and seclusion. Will Smith is a repeated visitor. Lindsay Lohan 
lives off and on in the sheikhdom. David Beckham, Shah Rukh Khan and others are 
believed to own property in Dubai.

   Yet it also has drawn world leaders seeking to escape their own countries. 
Pakistani Gen. Pervez Musharraf, facing criminal charges back home, fled to 
Dubai in 2016. Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came to Dubai to 
avoid a criminal conviction in 2017, following in the footsteps of her brother, 
the ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

   The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with the UAE. However, the U.S. 
stations some 5,000 troops in the country and Dubai's Jebel Ali port is the 
biggest port of call for the U.S. Navy outside of America.


(KA)

 
 
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