23 February 2017

Comics and music shows in Saudi Arabia draw rebuke from clerics

A comic show and a recent pop concert have drawn rebuke from powerful religious figures and social media users in Saudi Arabia this week, highlighting the sensitivity of cultural reforms underway in the conservative kingdom.

Thousands of Saudis - including women - decked out in costumes and face paint attended the country's first-ever Comic Con in Jeddah on Sunday. The sexes rarely mix in public in a country which adheres to the austere Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam.

The event was held by the state-run General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which has bucked some of the Islamic kingdom's strict social codes to host a series of festivals, comedy shows and concerts this year.

It came weeks after Saudi Arabia saw its first major public concert in over a decade, also in Jeddah. Authorities announced this week that the headline act, Saudi superstar Mohammed Abdo, would perform in the more conservative capital Riyadh in March. [Reuters] Read more