Saudi Arabia: Are There Any Circuses?



By the time you read this post I (hopefully) will have attended the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus with my Grandsons here in Charlotte. We have tickets for the circus but my participation will depend on my white blood counts since I’m still in active treatment for cancer.  It will be the second time for me to ever have attended a circus.  The first time was last year, also with my grandsons, when Barnum and Bailey came to Charlotte.

elephants at the circus

The circus is full of never ending excitement.  It is mesmerizing to not only watch the performers and the circus animals, but I equally enjoyed seeing the rapt attention on the faces of my grandsons and others.  The circa two hour show literally flew by way too fast.

But what about Saudi Arabia?  Can Saudi families and expatriates enjoy a circus while they are in the Kingdom?  According to a comment made December 2012 to a Jeddah based chat board, there are no circuses in Jeddah.  My own continued research unearthed that there are no circuses in Saudi Arabia, period.

riyadh zoo elephant


A database which keeps track of the location of circus elephants claims that there are four living elephants within the Kingdom.  Not surprisingly their located is cited as the zoo in Riyadh.

While there may not be circuses inside of Saudi Arabia, Saudis have gone to the circus when opportunities permit.  King Saud attended the circus in Baden Baden, Germany, with a full entourage in 1957.  The article is accompanied by an embedded video showing the King and his entourage thoroughly enjoying the circus and the antics of the well-trained animals.

Would it be feasible to have a circus in Saudi Arabia?  Socio-political analyst and writer, Tariq Al-Meeana shared, “No..I have never been to a circus in Saudi.  Most likely the prevailing paranoia against mingling deprived most of us of clean family fare in our own country.”

There is no doubt that it would be interesting and provide another venue for family entertainment in the Kingdom.  Yet, at the same time, would the circus animals be taken care of properly?

abused circus animals


Princess Bessma raised a very good point as we were dialoging about this subject:  “As for circus performance here I would be worried about how the animals would be treated. The acrobats would have to wear baggy clothes. Would they allow music? Not sure if a circus here would work! People will go for sure because we don’t have many options for entertainment but would it be a proper circus experience?”


16 Responses

  1. There have definitely been circuses that visited KSA. I even attended one outside Jeddah. Here a very quick look through the ArabNews archives provided these citations (there were more, but I don’t have time to list them all):

    RIYADH, 7 November 2005 Eid festivities here this year featured a couple of firsts — a circus and a cinema.
    RIYADH, 27 October 2006 — The huge yellow and red plastic tent on King Fahd Road near Hyper Panda could be seen from a distance. From a glance, you know something unusual is going on. The circus was in town for the three days of Eid Al-Fitr.
    JEDDAH, 8 August 2007 — The Sultan Circus is in town and will open its doors to the public today on an 8,000-square meter area of land located near the former Buharat Al-Qetar on the north coast of Jeddah.
    16 October 2008 RIYADH: Eid Al-Fitr festivities in the city.The festivities included myriad public, family-friendly events, including children’s activities, plays, circuses and firework displays citywide.
    Monday 30 June 2008 JEDDAH: Other events, he said, would include children’s plays, folklore shows, an international circus,..
    Saturday 14 July 2012 JEDDAH There were dolphin shows, comedy shows, the circus in east Jeddah and children’s shows in indoor stadium.

  2. I see no reason why people in Saudi Arabia would enjoy a circus but finding a way to do it given the sex mixing issue would be difficult.

  3. No circus in Saudi, but plenty of top quality clowns. Just look for them at your the nearest CPVPV office.

  4. lol good one MoQ.
    I am under the impression that circuses are illegal in Saudi-Arabia. Please correct me if I’m wrong?

  5. Hello? Did anybody read my post? Go to and enter “circus” in the search box. There have been plenty of circuses that have performed in the Kingdom.

  6. I loved the ancient news video clip.

    Oh, Moq, but then we had another circus video yesterday! 😈

  7. Very interesting, Clodfelter and thanks for sharing. I did find a video on youtube that was described as a circus on Eid but the video featured guys on motorcylces.

    I hope that we can receive more feedback on these circuses. Were they segregated? Was their music? Were the animals healthy?

  8. What is the name of that park on the beach in Khobar where there is a continual ‘circus’?! LOL!!!

  9. Circuses around the world abuse their animals, very well documented…so any and all circuses should be banned…not just in Saudi where it’s also well known that animals are horribly abused.

  10. Not all circuses have animals, so need to ban “any and all circuses”. Do you object to using trained domestic animals (parrots, dogs, cats, etc.) in circuses as well?

  11. I wish I could have visited circus Knie which was a very traditional circus with mainly horses. Their horses had a very good life, they were very well cared for, they were taken on rides outside of the circus, they got constant care and attention, and when one was ill and had to be left behind for a while they were very unhappy.

    I have been sketching at circus Alexis Grüss, they used to show in my city and they are also a traditional circus with mainly horses and they were also very well looking, they got good food and lots of attention and they seemed very happy to me.

  12. I also don’t like the multi-animal circus now and would like to see them banned. I don’t even like zoos and won’t go to one. I can see that the ones featuring horses would be okay but I like the people ones like Cirque de Soleil the best. Humans have the choice to say yes or no. Now I have to ponder that point because I wonder how much choice some of the performers in the Chinese Acrobatic circuses had?

  13. I noticed that in the circus (Barnum & Bailey) that I went to two weeks ago there were more “people” acts than animal acts.

  14. That’s good but lets get it down to no animals. 🙂

  15. What if the animals like being in a circus? My horse would have a whale of a time. He loves attention, learning new things and showing off what he already knows.

  16. I think horses and probably dogs are different and can adapt very well to a circus (depending on the circus of course). They are domesticated in the first place. Elephants, lions, tigers, monkeys, etc. are not domesticated and I do believe they have very tough lives.

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