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US rapper Silento banned from leaving the UAE

American rapper Silento has been been banned from leaving the UAE after failing to appear at two concerts for which he was contracted.

Al Ain Civil Court imposed the travel ban on February 20 after the Alabama-born rapper, a Soul Train Music Award winner best known for his single Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae), failed to appear at the concerts in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain last month.

The court order says Silento, 19, whose real name is Ricky Lamar Hawk, cannot leave the country until he pays Dh300,000 to claimant Makki Taj El Sir Abdel Halim.

The court ordered Silento to surrender his passport to authorities in Al Ain until payment was made or the case settled.

Abdel Halim, owner of Al Ain events company Mackie Entertainment, said an agreement had been reached between his company and Silento’s Middle East representatives for the rapper to perform two shows on February 18.

Mr Halim said the concerts were to be held in the afternoon in Al Ain for US$4,000 (Dh14,690) and another at night in Abu Dhabi for $5,000.

“After we reached an agreement and the contracts were signed, Silento did not show up at Bounce Abu Dhabi and Al Ain Rotana for the events,” he says. “Furthermore, I was asked to cover costs of travel and accommodation.

“The contract stated that the payment of 50 per cent is due, but I was again asked to pay extra and more payments were made.”

Mr Halim said he made the request to the court because he lost money through promotions and bookings, and further bookings agreed to in Oman with Silento’s representatives.

The court issued its order after being presented with signed contracts and receipts for the payments made to Jenna Kadhum, who is representing Silento in the Middle East on behalf of his US management team, Capitol Records’s Carlos Welch and Chester Wilkins.

HG Consulting of Dubai was named as a third party to the deal. The National was not able to reach HG Consulting at press time. But Ms Kadhum said the issue did not lie with her.

“We did not know that a ban was issued until today,” she said. “There was no contract between myself and Mackie Entertainment. The contract was with another company, which put my name and logo in the documents, and I did not sign any document.”

Ms Kadhum, who is planning her own legal action and has contacted the US embassy in Abu Dhabi on Silento’s behalf, claimed he missed the concerts because he had not received his fee.

He performed as scheduled in Amman on February 17, in a show arranged by a different company, but did not make it onstage in Muscat for a concert on February 19.

The travel ban was not stopping Silento from getting out and about in Dubai on March 1 , although the rapper tweeted earlier in the day that he was tired.

He was going ahead with plans to take the stage at midnight at Dubai’s XL Beach Club after meeting fans at Box Park in Jumeirah, Dubai earlier in the evening. He was also scheduled to be at The W Hotel’s Crystal Lounge and Bar in Doha on March 2.

Dubai lawyer and consultant Michel Chalhoub, of Naji Beidoun Advocates and Legal Consultants, said that despite the case the rapper could still perform in the UAE.

The rapper’s popular 2015 song and video reached No 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Silento is due to release new songs this year.

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The National