Saudi Arabia signs ten-year deal with pro-wrestling giant WWE
Saudi Arabia announced that it has signed a ten-year contract with the WWE to hold professional wrestling shows in the kingdom in the latest move to increase domestic entertainment.
The head of the Saudi General Sport Authority made the deal in Riyadh with WWE owner Vince McMahon on Wednesday, Saudi state-run media reported.
The agreement will allow the sports entertainment giant to organise events in the country over the next decade, the Saudi Press Agency said.
The agency added that the move is a part of authorities' efforts to host international sporting events.
Saudis have taken to social media to discuss the announcement, with some people expressing concerns the deal is a waste of money and will fail to encourage people to play sports.
The WWE has held several shows in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent years.
Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia has undergone sweeping changes since King Salman came to power three years ago, announcing major economic reforms and allowing women more rights.
Long known for its ultra-conservative mores, the kingdom has embarked on a wide-ranging programme of social reforms that includes boosting sports and entertainment and allowing women to drive from June.
In April 2016 the government approved major reform plans dubbed "Vision 2030" aimed at diversifying the oil-dependent economy.
Under the auspices of power Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the plan involves privatising part of oil giant Aramco and setting up a sovereign wealth fund of $2 trillion.
There are also plans for a regional Silicon Valley, an entertainment city in Riyadh to rival Walt Disney and a reef-fringed resort destination on the Red Sea.
The country has announced it will begin issuing tourist visas in the first quarter of 2018 and will invest $64 billion in its entertainment sector, including for new venues and flying in Western acts.
Authorities announced in December 2017 that cinemas will reopen after a ban of 35 years and in February the first-ever jazz festival was held in Saudi Arabia.