3 Performers Stabbed on Stage During a Play in Saudi Capital, Suspect Arrested

Riyadh: Three performers have been stabbed during a play in the Saudi capital and the alleged assailant was arrested, state television said, in the first such incident since the kingdom opened its doors for entertainment.

"Riyadh police have arrested an Arab resident in possession of a knife after he stabbed two men and a woman who were members of a theatrical group," Al-Ekhbariya television reported Monday.

It said the injured were in stable condition.

The man was seen stomping onto the stage to attack performers in theatrical costumes during a musical performance, in footage broadcast on Ekbariya. The attack comes as Saudi Arabia boosts entertainment for its citizens as the Muslim kingdom seeks to transform its ultra-conservative image.

The country's de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has introduced reforms including allowing concerts, reopening cinemas and lifting a ban on women driving as part of a modernisation drive. Developing the tourism and leisure sector is one of the foundations of his Vision 2030 plan to prepare the Arab world's largest economy for the post-oil era.

But the reforms have risked riling arch-conservatives, including the religious police whose powers have diminished in recent years. Some Saudis also view the push for entertainment as an attempt to blunt public frustration over an economic downturn and high youth unemployment in the petro-state.