For a long time, music concerts have been illegal in Saudi Arabia due to the strong influence of the Wahhabi Sunni Islam beliefs on the legal system. However, history was made in September 2017 when the government allowed a large concert to be held at Jeddah where more than 8,000 men attended.
The concert also served as a homecoming event for renowned Saudi musician Mohammed Abdo who had performed to large audiences abroad, but he was not welcome in his own country. However, not all restrictions had been lifted because no women were allowed into the concert.
Job Creation and Reducing Reliance on Oil
The event was part of some of the steps that the government is taking to rejuvenate the leisure and entertainment sector as well as reduce the reliance on oil and create new jobs in the country. One of the singers that performed alongside Abdo said that such concerts were something that the citizens had longed for homecoming in a long while.
These concerts are bound to be more common, especially after the formation of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) that was formed in 2016. Up until then, the authority had organized about 70 concerts, but they were smaller and located in smaller sub-public venues. According to the chief executive of GEA, the authority aims to increase spending on entertainment to 6% by the year 2020 by investing in experiences that are family-friendly.
Music and Islam
Religious scholars who have a significant influence in the kingdom’s legal system are still divided as to whether music is permissible inside the Muslim faith and if there is any evidence against it. There has also been a lot of pressure to open up the country economically, and this has led to some legal changes, such as the reducing of some powers of the religious police.