Masks, costumes and characters of all types gathered in the Red Sea city of Jeddah for the opening day of Saudi Arabia’s Comic-Con event. Saudi Arabia’s first-ever Comic Con, held on February 17-19, 2017 received enthusiastic response, with more than 20,000 visitors
The global comics expo was held under the auspices of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, which has bucked some of the austere Islamic kingdom’s strict social codes to host a series of festivals, comedy shows and concerts this year.
Men and women queued in separate lines outside the venue, guarded by a heavy police presence, and the show ground to a halt each time the call to prayer was heard.
But inside the crowded tent, participants mingled around pop art booths and competed in video game competitions together, an unusual sight in a country that bars the mixing of men and women who are not related.
Special areas were set up so the female fans could show off their costumes to other women (they aren’t allowed to remove their traditional garb in public), and attendees weren’t allowed to cross-dress or display insignia or iconography that goes against the teachings of Islam.
The international pop culture event seeks to break stereotypes about the Islamic kingdom. The goal is to issue a wave of cultural reforms and to boost its entertainment sector as part of an economic and social reform drive aimed at creating jobs away from oil Industry.
Objections by religious conservatives who viewed the event as “devil-worshipping,” though, and called for a boycott.” appeared to have had little effect.