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Al-Qaeda warns Saudi crown prince over 'sinful projects'

Militant group attacks Mohammad bin Salman for policy changes that have led to the reinstating of cinemas, concerts and wresting matches
A cinema in Riyadh Park mall opens in April (AFP)

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has warned Saudi Arabia's reformist Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over his "sinful projects", in a bulletin released on Friday.

Prince Mohammad has spearheaded a string of policy changes in Saudi Arabia, including reinstating cinemas and allowing women to drive. 

"The new era of bin Salman replaced mosques with movie theatres," the Yemen-based group said in its Madad news bulletin, picked up by the SITE Intelligence Group. 

He "substituted books that belonged to the imams... with absurdities of the atheists and secularists from the east and the West and opened the door wide for corruption and moral degradation", it said.

AQAP has flourished amid a complex war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia heads a military alliance battling Houthi rebels.

In its statement, AQAP slammed April's WWE Greatest Royal Rumble event, a wrestling tournament that was held in Jeddah, near the Islam's most holy sites in Mecca.

"(Foreign) disbelieving wrestlers exposed their privates and on most of them was the sign of the cross, in front of a mixed gathering of young Muslim men and women," it said. 

"The corruptors did not stop at that, for every night musical concerts are being announced, as well as movies and circus shows," SITE quoted it as saying.

AQAP in southern Yemen is the target of a long-running drone campaign by the United States, which regards it as the most dangerous branch of the group.

Yemen's conflict has left nearly 10,000 people dead, tens of thousands wounded, and millions on the brink of famine. 

The United Nations has called Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis. 

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the war between Yemen's Houthi rebels and the government of now-exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in 2015.

They have landed on a United Nations blacklist over the killing and maiming of children. 

The Houthis, linked to Iran, have also come under fire for neglecting to protect civilians and targeting the press and minorities. They have controlled the capital Sanaa since 2014.