Superheroes don their capes as second Saudi Comic Con comes to Jeddah

Saudi Comic Con's international guests from left to right: Ian Somerhalder, Wagner Moura and Gustaf Skarsgard.
Updated 21 March 2018

Superheroes don their capes as second Saudi Comic Con comes to Jeddah

JEDDAH: Excitement is building among comics fans as the second installment of Saudi Comic Con (SCC) is set to sweep over Jeddah from Thursday (March 22-24).
Last year’s SCC, the first event of its kind in Saudi Arabia, drew in more than 22,000 lovers of comics, manga, anime and film. Cosplayers dressed as their favorite characters, Marvel superheroes were sighted on the ground, artists met and networked, while children and adults basked in the all-encompassing presence of Star Wars and manga figures around the hall.
The three-day convention is an initiative sponsored by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and organized by Time Entertainment. It aims to give comic fans a place to plant their roots, to support local authors and storytellers, and provide entertainment, coinciding with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030.
“This year’s Comic Con is bigger, better and will hopefully witness an increase in attendees," Time Entertainment told Arab News. “It will be more engaging, especially toward local artists as we’ve given them greater exposure.”
This year’s event promises fans a flurry of new experiences with three international stars: The Vampire Diaries’ Ian Somerhalder, Narcos’ Wagner Moura and Vikings’ Gustaf Skarsgard.
Netflix will hold a public event for the first time in Saudi Arabia, while famous DC universe characters will make an appearance, including Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, the Joker and the Flash. There will be many competitions, including a gaming league on Thursday, and a cosplaying competition on Friday for males and females who will be able to participate in separate sections to showcase their talents.
Obada Awad, Time Entertainment CEO, said there was a huge demand for such an event: “Saudi Comic Con is a phenomenon that changed the entertainment scene in the country and paved the way for different types of entertainment in the Kingdom,” he said.
Notably, SCC received the award for Best International Event held in the Kingdom in 2017 from the GEA.

For more information about the three day event, visit

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”