RIYADH - A comic show and a recent pop concert have drawn rebuke from powerful religious figures and social media users in Saudi Arabia this week, highlighting the sensitivity of cultural reforms underway in the conservative kingdom.

Thousands of Saudis - including women - decked out in costumes and face paint attended the country’s first-ever Comic Con in Jeddah on Sunday.

The event was held by the state-run General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which has bucked some of the Islamic kingdom’s strict social codes to host a series of festivals, comedy shows and concerts this year.

It came weeks after Saudi Arabia saw its first major public concert in over a decade, also in Jeddah. Authorities announced this week that the headline act, Saudi superstar Mohammed Abdo, would perform in the more conservative capital Riyadh in March.

“We were astonished by the hideous act of the Entertainment Authority, by these events held in Jeddah that are not in line with good behavior or our great religion,” Hussein Al-Sheikh, the imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, posted on Twitter.

“It is a duty upon officials to consider God in these actions,” he said, calling on Saudi citizens to boycott events like it.

Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani, the former imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, said the state body set up to promote the kingdom’s entertainment drive “violates human nature.”

“Humans are meant to seek refuge in God in times of difficulty,” he wrote.