September 29, 2017 / 3:15 PM / 10 months ago

Saudi entertainment authority says hit by cyber attack

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which has begun sponsoring concerts and shows said on Friday its website had been the target of cyber attacks from outside the kingdom.

Man poses in front of on a display showing the word 'cyber' in binary code, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica December 27, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Files

The GEA was set up last year as part of the Vision 2030 reform programme to provide entertainment options for Saudis, who are accustomed to travelling abroad to see shows and visit amusement parks in nearby Dubai and further afield.

It said on Twitter it was working to end the attacks, which began early on Thursday, to prevent any impact to its website or social media accounts.

“The source of the subversive attacks, which aim to harm the authority and its efforts, is being identified,” it added.

The GEA organised a big programme of concerts and performances last weekend for the 87th anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s foundation.

The festivities included a pageant operetta which allowed women to enter a sports stadium in Riyadh for the first time and a block party where men and women danced to music in a central street - drawing some criticism in the conservative Islamic kingdom where gender segregation is strictly enforced.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia put out an alert about the Shamoon virus, which cripples computers by wiping their disks, as the labour ministry had been attacked and a chemicals firm reported a network disruption.

Reporting by Katie Paul, Writing by Reem Shamseddine and Stephen Kalin

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