Rapper Silento banned from leaving UAE over contract dispute

An American rapper has been ordered to remain in the United Arab Emirates until he settles a dispute with a local concert promoter.

Ricky Lamar Hawk, known as Silento, was banned from leaving the country after Mackie Entertainment sued him for failing to show up at concerts in Oman on Feb. 16 and the emirate of Al Ain on Feb. 18.

A court order seen by CNNMoney requires the rapper to surrender his passport and pay 300,000 dirhams ($82,000) to Makki Abdelhalim, owner of Mackie Entertainment.

“The reason I went to court is because I am asking for a refund,” Abdelhalim told CNNMoney. “He didn’t show up. He ruined my reputation,” he said.

Advertisements show that Mackie Entertainment was a sponsor for both concerts.

Silento is best known for his 2015 hit “Watch Me.”

UrbanMass, the management company representing Silento in Dubai, said it had not signed a contract with Mackie Entertainment but had discussed the shows with Abdelhalim.

Jenna Kadhum, managing partner at UrbanMass, confirmed that Silento did not attend the concerts because “the promoter did not keep his end of the agreement.”

“He was supposed to pay for the hotel, transportation, per diems before the show,” she told CNNMoney.

The court order dated Feb. 20 states that Abdelhalim had paid Silento about $4,000, based on a transfer receipt. Silento can only leave the UAE when he’s paid back $82,000, which the promoter says includes his loss on the concerts.

The rapper on Wednesday tweeted a link to a gofundme page raising money for him. The tweet has since been deleted from his account.

Kadhum said she has reached out to the U.S. embassy in Abu Dhabi for help with Silento’s case. A spokesman for the embassy said he was unable to comment on private individuals.

Despite the ordeal, Silento still appeared at a concert in Dubai on Wednesday. A video clip posted by local newspaper The National shows Silento teling the audience “I can’t even leave UAE, but I’m still in the club.”

— Samantha Beech in Abu Dhabi contributed to this report.

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