In Saudi Arabia, entertainment events are still in their early stages. This means expectations in terms of both success and safety measures are hovering around the high end of the spectrum. So when a stabbing takes place during a live show, it is only natural to see the highest form of punishment take ground.
This week, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a Yemeni man to death over a month after the latter stabbed members of a Spanish theater group during their performance in Riyadh. Following the attack, the victims were said to be in stable condition. The knife attack took place in November at the King Abdullah Park in Al-Malaz, one of several venues that hosted Riyadh Season. In footage broadcast by state television at the time, the suspect was seen angrily walking towards the performers as he stabbed at least three of them.
Soon after the man's identity was uncovered, police in Riyadh arrested the man for the attack; his accomplice was jailed for 12 years.
According to the BBC, the attack is believed to be the first violent incident to take place since Saudi Arabia loosened the laws governing its entertainment industry.
Last week, Saudi state TV said the assailant "took orders from an Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen," according to media reports, but this has not been confirmed by the extremist organization.
The use of a weapon in this attack distinguishes it from other incidents that have pushed people to jump out of their skin in Saudi Arabia recently.
On Sunday, it was revealed that authorities in Riyadh had arrested over 200 people for violating the country's recently implemented public decency laws. Those arrested were accused of wearing "immodest clothing" and of "harassment" in what has been described as the first crackdown on individuals since the easing of social rules in Saudi Arabia.
According to The Daily Mail, about 120 men and women were arrested for offending public morals; another 88 people were jailed for harassment.
The harassment cases came to light after several women began sharing their testimonies on social media, revealing how they had been violated at the MDL Beast music festival in Riyadh this month.
These incidents are inevitable but Saudi Arabia has been amping up its measures when it comes to punishments and penalties in hopes of reducing their occurrence.
The entertainment events are all part of Saudi Arabia's plan 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." The latter is taken very seriously as the arrests this month have proven.