Saudi Arabia celebrates its first comic con event ever; crowds flock to experience it

by Nicholas Pendergast

A monumental cultural experience happened in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this past weekend, and it should not be understated. Saudi Arabia is a country that conjures touchy feelings; although a U.S. ally and member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Sunni Islamic nation is under a shroud of extremely strict anti-western religious law, and pop cultural events such as a comic con may never happen on an ordinary day in Jeddah.

Thursday through Saturday were no ordinary days in this coastal city, renown for its beautiful beaches and high rise hotels. The expo in Jeddah attracted thousands who might not have ever had a chance to experience what we in the west have turned into a sensational part of our culture; the chance to dress up like heroes and release positive creative energy.

The expo might be a huge contrast to the typically strict Wahhabi value ordinances regulated by secretive sectarian police who patrol Saudi cities, but the government insures that this is a healthy step toward bringing entertainment to their culture. Hashtags and protests against the comic con sprung up all over the Internet, but the government followed through with their initiative to keep their first expo on into the weekend. The event went through an entire year of organization before a successful collaboration between promoters and the Saudi government could become reality.

“The minute I stepped in, I couldn’t believe this is happening here,” a woman named Fatima Mohammed Hussein told CNN. “It’s a big move for Saudi to have something like that.”

Fatima wore customary black robes, but was able to wear a Bat Girl mask to the expo. Ordinarily depicting cartoon and comic characters in public is banned. Women were requested to maintain their orthodox dress codes from the neck down in sight of men, but were allowed to remove their robes and show off costumes in a separate tent exclusive to females.

Abdul Rahman Bakhsh, a 25-year-old engineer and YouTuber, came to the comic con dressed up like an armored spearman typical of an antiquated pre-Islamic age.

“When you enter into the tent, you forget that you are in Saudi Arabia,” Abdul said. He posed in many pictures with his friends and posted them to an Instagram account.

الوضع مشقلب 😂😂 معرض كوميك كون 😍

A post shared by Eng. Abdulrahman Bakhsh (@healthway_22) on

Celebrities were on location as well including; Mads Mikkelsen, Charles Dunce, and Giancarlo Esposito.


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