Saudi Arabia just held its first ever comic convention.
Yes, you heard it right. The ultra-conservative country hosted a Comic Con, Feb. 16-18, and the pop-culture event was in no way a failure.
An approximate 7,000 people flocked to Jeddah, queuing to enter the building stretched for more than 100 yards.
Inside the building, Saudi youth enjoyed rare freedoms in their cocoon.
The American award-winning science fiction writer, Maxwell Alexander Drake, was the first to open a session on creative writing.
He also said that the Comic Con, with teenagers dressed like Marvel characters, looked exactly like any other such event in the world.
Except that it did not. The Comic Con was segregated, and men and women were not allowed to interact. Moreover, women entered the venue in abayas (long black robes traditionally worn by Muslim women), which they could take off only inside the space designated for women.
Cross-dressing, a common feature of comic cons world-wide, was prohibited.
When the news of the Saudi Comic Con first broke, many pointed at a fledgling Arabic hashtag on Twitter, that declared the attendees and organizers to be "worshippers of the devil," to prove that the country did not thirst for entertainment.
Interestingly, the hashtag was used mainly by people mocking the trend.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Faisal Al Nasser