R Kelly asks US judge for permission to perform in Dubai and ‘meet with the royal family’

Dubai has been caught up in the sex abuse case against R Kelly, after the R&B singer asked a judge for permission to travel there to perform and “meet with the royal family”. 

Kelly was charged on 22 February with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse for allegedly assaulting three underage girls and one adult woman. 

The singer has struggled to pay child support “and other child related expenses”, his lawyer Steven A Greenberg said. He blamed Kelly’s financial issues on the cancellation of Illinois concerts and a record company contract, along with the removal of his songs from streaming services. Greenberg said Kelly now needs to raise money through performances elsewhere.

A defence filing on 20 March in Chicago said he would do three to five concerts in Dubai. It did not specify where he would play or how much he would earn. There is currently no publicised event at which Kelly is known to be a performer, however Dubai’s luxury nightclubs often host artists for days at a time, while rich families also pay celebrities to appear at their parties. 

It is unclear what Kelly’s lawyers mean regarding “the royal family”. The UAE‘s seven emirates are overseen by hereditary rulers. Dubai’s ruler is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 69. His son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, is next in line to be ruler and serves as Dubai’s crown prince. 

As a bond condition in his sexual abuse case, Kelly must stay in Illinois unless a judge approves out-of-state travel. The court filing asserts Kelly is not a flight risk, and says the UAE would never jeopardise its close political and security ties with the US. 


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