A professor of Islamic Law at Qassim University in Saudi Arabia,
Sheikh Omar al-Muqbil, has been arrested and detained after he
criticised the policies of the General Entertainment Authority as a
threat to the kingdom’s culture.
A group, Prisoners of Conscience, made Muqbil’s detention known in a
post on Twitter.
“This is a continuation of the arbitrary arrests that have taken place
in the kingdom for the past two years, which are aimed at leading
scholars, sheikhs and other free thinkers,” the group was quoted as
saying by Al-Jazeera.
In recent times, the GEA had hosted a number of music stars including
Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Sean Paul in an attempt to boost the
image of Saudi Arabia globally.
Last year, the authority announced plans to invest $64bn in the
entertainment sector during the next decade as part of a programme of
social and economic reforms driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
The reforms stem partly from an economic motive to increase domestic
spending on entertainment and attract Western investment to offset the
effect of a slump in the price of oil that began in 2014.
Other measures include ending decades-long ban on women driving,
cinemas and mixed-gender concerts.
The heavyweight boxing rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz
taking place in Riyahd, Saudi Arabia, on December 7, is also seen as
part of that drive to open up the kingdom more to the outside world.