Riyadh's entertainment shows have been going smoothly, for the most part, but a recent attack on members of a theater group proved otherwise.
Police in the Saudi capital are currently investigating an attack that took place at King Abdullah Park in Al-Malaz on Monday in the midst of a musical performance by what appeared to be a foreign theater troupe. In footage broadcast by state television, a suspect can be seen angrily walking towards the performers, stabbing at least three of them. Some media reports have said four people have been stabbed, but state television reported differently.
"Riyadh police have arrested an Arab resident in possession of a knife after he stabbed two men and a woman, who were members of a theatre group," said al-Ekhbariya state television, according to The Guardian.
As soon as the attack took place, police evacuated the area as a precautionary measure.
The official spokesman for the Saudi Red Crescent in Riyadh, Yaser Al-Jalajil, said nine teams arrived at the scene to help transport the injured victims to a nearby hospital.
The victims are said to be in stable condition.
Several videos of the incident have been circulated on social media. In it, the attacker can be seen jumping on stage and attacking the victims before he was tackled by someone assumed to be a security guard.
The man has been identified as a 33-year-old Yemeni national, however, the motive behind the attack has not been made clear. According to Arab News, the suspect has been arrested and investigations into the incident are still ongoing.
The King Abdullah park is one of the venues open for entertainment during Riyadh Season, the ongoing festival that has been bringing in millions of visitors.
The festival, alongside other happenings as part of Saudi Seasons, are part of a broader plan that aims to invite tourists to the kingdom in hopes of building a revenue-generating sector aside from oil.
Under the ambitious Vision 2030, the kingdom has been gradually driving its efforts away from oil-rich profits and putting forth a more diverse economic strategy. In recent months, the nation has been investing heavily in several non-oil sectors and its efforts have not gone unnoticed in the tourism industry. Among the key goals under Vision 2030 is to increase the number of tourists who visit Saudi Arabia and the revenues generated from the sector to 18 percent in the next 14 years, with a particular focus on leisure tourism aside from its religious counterpart.
Back in September, Saudi Arabia rolled out tourist visas to citizens of 49 countries for the first time ever. The kingdom also loosened its legislative restrictions on tourists in hopes of attracting more travelers. For starters, unmarried foreign couples can now book a shared hotel room without presenting proof of marriage beforehand. Female travelers to the kingdom are also no longer required to wear the once-mandatory abaya while roaming the streets, but still need to wear "modest clothing."