Jay Z, bull-running and Quran recitation: Saudi Arabia's latest attempts to build new public image

Jay Z, bull-running and Quran recitation: Saudi Arabia's latest attempts to build new public image
Saudi Arabia's controversial entertainment chief Turki Al-Sheikh has unveiled the kingdom's entertainment options for 2019.
2 min read
23 January, 2019
Jay Z will perform in Saudi Arabia this year [Getty]

Running with the bulls and a NBA basketball match will be some of the highlights of Saudi Arabia's entertainment calendar in 2019, as the kingdom seeks to shake-up its image following negative publicity surrounding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia's controversial General Entertainment Authority chief Turki al-Sheikh - a close confidant of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - unveiled the  plans for the year, as the kingdom attempts to promote sports and other events.

Among the sporting events planned are an NBA game, although no details were provided on which teams will take part and when.

Former football stars David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane will also visit the kingdom, according to the entertainment authority, but no further information was available.

There are also plans for a recreation of the "Running of the Bulls", the famous bull-run in Spain's Pamplona.

Musicians Jay Z, DJ Khaled and Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu is also due to perform, although no dates have been set.

London's Madame's Tussaud's wax museum will also open, according to Al-Sheikh. We have approached the wax museum for confirmation of this.

Saudi Arabia had an unofficial ban on some public events, such as cinemas for decades, but is opening up entertainment options to appeal to young Saudis, generate new income and improve its rusty image.

Riyadh faced strong international criticism over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

The negative coverage Saudi Arabia faced has been a setback for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plans to improve the kingdom's international image and modernise its economy.