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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

WWE set to increase presence in the Middle East with 10-year deal for shows in Saudi Arabia

News comes after the company's successful two-night tour of Abu Dhabi in December that included historic woman's match.

Braun Strowman in action during the WWE's tour of Abu Dhabi in December. The company have now signed a 10-year deal to tour Saudi Arabia. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
Braun Strowman in action during the WWE's tour of Abu Dhabi in December. The company have now signed a 10-year deal to tour Saudi Arabia. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

The Middle East has become a popular venue for the WWE in recent years and that is set to continue with the news that a deal has been struck with Saudi Arabia's top sports authority for the sports entertainment company to hold shows in the country for the next 10 years.

The WWE has held a number of events in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the past six years, with the first WWE show in Riyadh held in 2014, with superstars competing including John Cena, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dolph Ziggler performed.

Turki Al-Sheikh, Chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority, signed a deal with Vince McMahon, the WWE owner and chairman, in Riyadh this week according to the Saudi Press Agency.

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Details of the arrangement are yet to be announced but, given the demands of the WWE scheduling, they will be touring Saudi Arabia, and possibly the Middle East as a whole, once a year for the next decade.

The WWE have held shows in the UAE since 2012, with four events in Abu Dhabi, most recently in December, and one in April 2016 in Dubai.

The December tour, which was made up of two nights at the International Tennis Stadium at Zayed Sports City, saw history made with the first WWE women's match in the UAE as Raw women's champion Alexa Bliss defended her title against Sasha Banks.

The WWE also have begun looking to the Middle East for talent in the ring as well.

Dubai-based Jordanian Shadia Bseiso became the first woman signed from the Middle East last autumn after impressing in a try-out in Dubai in April, and she began training at the WWE's Performance Centre in Orlando in January.

Also training at the Performance Centre is Nasser Alruwayeh, who is the first person from Kuwait to be on the WWE's books.

The WWE is currently preparing for its biggest international event, WrestleMania 34, which this year takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on April 8.

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