On Sunday, Canadian entertainment company Cirque du Soleil held its first-ever show in Saudi Arabia, marking the kingdom's 88th National Day.

A group of acrobatic performers turned heads to a packed crowd at the King Fahd Sports Stadium in Riyadh. Cirque du Soleil said the show - organized by MBC Group - was "one of its biggest one-off productions ever", according to AFP.

More than 80 artists participated in the theatrical performance as they donned tailor-made wardrobe conforming to the kingdom's traditions.

The show came months after Saudi Arabia's fallout with Canada, which began after authorities in the North American country urged their counterparts in the Saudi capital Riyadh to release arrested civil rights activists.

Despite this, the show went on ... and soon became a topic of discussion throughout the kingdom on Sunday. The performance was aired on MBC television, ultimately giving birth to Arabic and English hashtags in the kingdom.

"Designed exclusively for Saudi National Day"

"A very impressive show"

"How did we not hear about this?"


"Vision 2030 is making KSA a truly fun place to be"

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia's General Entertainment Authority (GEA) announced that more than 5,000 festivals and concerts will take place in the kingdom in 2018.

In June, Riyadh announced the creation of a new Ministry of Culture, dividing the previous Ministry of Culture and Information into two separate government entities.

As part of Saudi Arabia's ambitious Vision 2030 plan, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has pushed for greater cultural and entertainment options in the kingdom. 

Since the plan was initiated in 2016, the kingdom has opened its doors wide to a range of new cultural activities. Public concerts, international conferences, cinemas, and other entertainment options have come to the kingdom.

Although conservatives in the kingdom have expressed criticism of some of the changes, MBS and the Saudi leadership have pushed forward with social reforms.