President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia took on a decidedly American flavor on Saturday as he rolled through the National Museum in Riyadh in a luxury golf cart with his wife, Melania, and King Salman past a jumbo television screen showing country singer Toby Keith’s concert.
The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner followed in another golf cart, according to a report by The Hill.
All night, the museum live-streamed Keith’s high-profile concert in Riyadh, open only to men, in which he performed alongside a lute player, Bloomberg reported.
Keith performed during Trump’s inauguration festivities earlier this year. Riyadh seemed a less obvious venue, considering that some of his best known hits are about drinking or celebrating the U.S. military. His song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” glorifies the U.S. “war on terror” begun after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
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Sample lyric: “’Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass; it’s the American way.”
Twitter response to the announcement of the show was what you might expect.
Saudi Arabia adheres to an ultraconservative interpretation of Islamic law, which means alcohol is banned, and men and women who aren’t related are segregated in public.
Which means no beer or whiskey — or red Solo cups — at this event.
“Keith is the author of a jingoistic war anthem called “The Taliban Song,” which he likes to sing on USO tours while flipping off the crowd,” notes Spin.
“He once titled an album Shock’n Y’all. It’s hard to imagine a less appropriate choice of diplomatic representative, short of national village idiots Ted Nugent and Kid Rock.”
Ads for the Saturday event promoted it as a night of “Arabian lute and American guitar.” Popular Saudi singer Rabeh Sager performed.
According to the Washington Post it’s not clear whether Keith’s performance was designed specifically to coincide with Trump’s visit.
And it’s not like Keith hitched a ride aboard Air Force One. Earlier in the week the White House said Keith would not be traveling with POTUS, the Post reports.
A spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry said the event marked the end of exams for students.
As a sandstorm rolled into Riyadh in the late evening, Trump and his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, were surrounded by dancing Saudi men wielding swords at an outdoor welcome ceremony before the start of an elaborate banquet at Murabba Palace, Bloomberg reported.