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Saudi Arabia's Riyadh festival shocked as three performers stabbed on stage

Assailant is a Yemeni expatriate, say the Saudi police, who released no further details regarding the victims or the attacker's motives
A man wielding a knife can be seen in this video grab, moments after he stabbed a performer (MEE)

A man stabbed three foreign performers on stage during a live show in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, part of a cultural season that has been heavily promoted by the kingdom.

The Saudi police immediately arrested the 33-year-old man, a Yemeni expatriate, and seized the knife he used in the attack.

Saudi state television broadcast footage of the incident, showing the unnamed assailant running onto the stage and attacking the members of a foreign theatre troupe as they performed a musical show.

Saudi police said that the victims are in stable condition, but no further details of their nationality or the motives behind the attack were released.

"Security forces dealt with a stabbing attack against two men and a woman from a theatre group during a live performance," a police spokesman told the official Saudi Press Agency.

The incident took place in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Park, which is hosting the Riyadh Season, a two-month cultural and entertainment festival, and part of Saudi Arabia's efforts to loosen conservative strings, liberalise the country and open it up for tourism.

In the past two years, a number of glitzy shows have been hosted in Saudi Arabia, including rapper 50 Cent, South Korean boy band BTS and pop icon Janet Jackson, among others.

These reforms were pushed by Saudi’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and have allowed the relaunching of cinemas, concerts, and the lifting of the ban on women driving, as part of his plan to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy and steer it away from dependence on crude oil.

But critics have said these reforms would anger conservatives in Saudi Arabia and that they have been promoted while the crown prince is silencing opposition to his rule.