After finalizing a 10-year contract, Saudi Arabia will once again host the world’s most renowned wrestling bouts on home ground. American-based World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is set to bring its events to the country following the recent agreement with the Kingdom’s General Sports Authority (GSA).
According to Forbes, a WWE spokesman confirmed that it had “agreed in principle to a ten-year strategic multiplatform partnership” that will cover live events, as well as social media, television, and other elements.
Indeed, there have been reports that WWE already has a major event planned for April. According to Newsweek, a new event being called the Greatest Royal Rumble is set to debut on April 27 in Saudi Arabia. The show will include a 50-man Royal Rumble. It will eclipse the 40-man that battled it out in 2011, making it the largest event in WWE history.
“The Greatest Royal Rumble will be a spectacle of historic proportions,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO in a press release. “Our partnership with the Saudi General Sports Authority reflects a long-term commitment to present WWE’s world-class entertainment to a global audience on a grander scale than ever before.”
The new Saudi deal comes at a time when WWE has been trying to boost its profile in the Middle East. Last year, it signed its first professional woman wrestler from the Arab world, Shadia Bseiso from Jordan. Two months later in December, it followed that up by signing development contracts with Nasser Alruwayeh of Kuwait and Mohamed Fahim of Egypt.
As part of its Vison 2030 strategy, a national plan to diversify its oil-dependent economy, Saudi Arabia has been working over the last months to develop its entertainment sector and encourage greater participation in sports, particularly by women.
Last year in December, the Kingdom rescinded a decades-old ban on public cinemas, with plans to build new theaters already underway. In addition, public events such as football matches have opened doors to female spectators, and in February, women held their first-ever half marathon in the country’s capital Riyadh.