Saudi Arabia to host Spanish-style ‘bull run’


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Saudi Arabia has announced ambitious new plans for its growing state-backed entertainment sector, including a bull run like that of Pamplona in Spain.

The conservative Gulf kingdom also hopes to open a waxworks museum and host the superstar rapper Jay Z.

General Entertainment Authority chief Turki al-Sheikh is seeking to generate billions of dollars of revenue.

The attempt to turn Saudi Arabia into a regional entertainment hub is backed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

However, both his and the country’s image have been tarnished in recent months by the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi – a prominent US-based critic of the government – was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October.

Saudi prosecutors have said Khashoggi was murdered in a “rogue” operation by intelligence agents sent to persuade him to return to the kingdom, and put 11 individuals on trial earlier this month.

But they have rejected reported Western intelligence assessments that the agents acted on the orders of Prince Mohammed, given his control over Saudi Arabia.

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At the launch of the GEA’s entertainment strategy in Riyadh on Tuesday, Mr Sheikh listed dozens of events Saudi Arabia hoped to host in 2019.

Beside from recreating Pamplona’s San Fermín bull-running festival, the GEA has plans for e-gaming tournaments, musicals like Aladdin and The Lion King, and possibly an NBA basketball game.

There will also be a Koranic recitation competition with a top prize worth $1.3m (£1m), and another contest for the most beautiful Muslim call to prayer, or adhan.

Top magicians are due to perform too despite sorcery being a capital crime.

“I hope national companies, banks, businessmen, artists and all sectors put their hands together. There are golden opportunities,” Mr Sheikh said.

“This is a big door for tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of jobs and for tens of billions if not hundreds of billions of riyals.”


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