A man has stabbed three performers during a live show in Saudi Arabia’s capital, state media said, adding that the victims were in stable condition.
Footage broadcast by state television on Monday showed the man, identified as a 33-year-old Yemeni, running onto the stage in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Park during a musical performance by what appeared to be a theatre troupe.
State news agency SPA said the victims, two men and a woman, sustained “superficial wounds” and were stabilised after receiving medical care.
A video tweeted by Al Ekhbariya appeared to show a man in street clothes rushing onto the stage towards a group of costumed performers and then falling to the ground as someone else chased him.
— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) November 11, 2019
Another online video showed the scene from another angle, as the assailant tumbled off the stage and the performers fled.
The motive for the attack was not immediately clear.
King Abdullah Park is one of several venues hosting a two-month-long entertainment festival as part of government efforts to open up Saudi society and diversify its economy away from oil.
The Riyadh Season festival’s website said the offerings at the park include live shows and music, light installations, wall climbing and zip-lining.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, has eased social restrictions and promoted entertainment previously banned in the conservative kingdom. The General Entertainment Authority has said it plans to pump $64bn into the sector in the coming decade
But Saudi officials warn that introducing such reforms in a society steeped in conservatism is fraught with risk.
While they are wildly popular among Saudi Arabia’s majority young population, the reforms could anger arch-conservatives, including hardline religious leaders and the religious police whose powers have been clipped in recent years.
“Liberals and conservatives in the kingdom are on a collision course and that probably worries Saudi leaders the most,” Quentin de Pimodan, a Saudi expert at the Greece-based Research Institute for European and American Studies, told AFP news agency.
“After this attack, we can expect a sharper crackdown on those opposed to Saudi’s entertainment push.”
Saudi Arabia has faced international scrutiny over its human rights record since last year’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul. Bengbenronews