First ever women's wrestling match in Saudi Arabia stirs outrage

First ever women's wrestling match in Saudi Arabia stirs outrage
Women wrestlers will take part in a controversial event in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
2 min read
30 October, 2019
Natalya is one of two women wrestlers who will take part in the bout [Getty]
Two women wrestlers will compete in a controversial WWE event in Saudi Arabia later this month for the first time, it was announced on Wednesday.

WWE's "Crown Jewel" will be part of the kingdom's Riyadh Season programme, an annual entertainment fixture in Saudi Arabia launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of a series of reforms.

"[The WWE] today announced at a press conference at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh that the first-ever WWE women's match in Saudi Arabia will take place tomorrow, October 31 as part of Riyadh Season," the WWE said in a statement.

Among the women wrestlers taking part in the matches are Natalya and Lacey Evans who will perform at the pay-per-view Crown Jewel event, which has been strongly criticised by human rights groups.

Wrestler Natalya tweeted about the bout saying: "The world will be watching. I am so incredibly proud to represent our women's division tomorrow night at #WWECrownJewel. It's time to bring your best, Lacey."

British boxer-turned-wrestler Tyson Fury will also compete in a separate match.

Recently-surfaced images of WWE legend The Undertaker and CEO Vince McMahon in Saudi Arabia have also fuelled speculation that he could make an appearance at the upcoming 'Crown Jewel' show on 31 October.

Saudi Arabia has seen a raft of reforms under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in efforts to blunt public frustration over an economic downturn and high youth unemployment.

Prince Mohammed has faced huge criticism from human rights groups for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the detention of activists.

Some fans have accused the sports entertainment firm of accepting "Saudi blood money".

Saudi Arabia is currently hosting an investment forum nicknamed "Davos in the Desert," to bring in new revenues and give the kingdom a PR makeover after widespread criticism over the murder of Khashoggi last year.

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