Photos and videos circulating on social media show a replica of the Statue of Liberty – America’s symbol of freedom – pop up on the waterside in Jeddah, causing confusion and prompting the municipality to respond.
The statue seems to have appeared on the Jeddah Corniche, prompting several tweets questioning its purpose.
Statements from Jeddah Municipality quickly followed through Arabic media channels to clarify that it is part of the ongoing Jeddah Seasons festivities.
According to a statement published in the Saudi publication Ajel, the statue is a temporary activation and serves the purpose of sharing American heritage to visitors. It went viral just in time for July 4 – America’s Independence Day.
“The statue of Liberty, currently located on Al Hamra Corniche, is part of a temporary event and will be removed as soon as it ends. (Urgent),” read one municipality statement, published on Twitter by the official HashKSA account, which disseminates news to its 9 million followers.
Another Arabic media outlet, Al Roeya, wrote that sources confirmed the statue would only be used for one week. According to the publication, the statue was used as part of an entertainment performance to share American heritage, after the success of similar activations in past weeks, which were centred around other countries from around the world.
Images circulating show the replica surrounded by other props, including the Hollywood sign, a Welcome to Vegas sign, an Uncle Sam hat and an Elvis Presley statue.
A short video clip posted by one Twitter user appeared to show a performance featuring the statue, set to the Bruno Mars song, Uptown Funk.
While some Twitter users spoke for or against the statue.
Saudi novelist Sara Ali wrote: “I live in Jeddah, explain to me where can I find the Statue of Liberty? I went around Jeddah and couldn’t find it.. I see weird stuff on Twitter and when I search for it I can’t find it in reality – either that it’s invisible or that I can’t see!”
One user stated his general dismay over blocking the view of the sea, writing: “Unfortunately, I went to the Jeddah Corniche and I couldn’t see the sea, there were activations between me and the sea,” he wrote. “Place the activations anywhere but leave the sea alone … You can’t sit in quietness except in your house.”
Another user reacted: “Good idea but we want something special for our country.”
Jeddah Season, which began on June 8 and continues until July 18, is a series of events, entertainment and festivities. Its latest announcement is a music festival named Jeddah World Fest on closing night, July 18, which will feature performances by rapper Nicki Minaj, pop star Liam Payne and DJ Steve Aoki.
In addition, K-pop group Super Junior is set to perform in Jeddah on July 12 and 13 at Al Joharah Stadium.
The Statue of Liberty, an icon of freedom in America, is a sculpture and popular tourist destination located on Liberty Island in New York. It arrived at the New York Harbor from France in 1885. Currently, preparations for July 4 celebrations are underway in America. The federal holiday is known for its lavish displays of fireworks, which commemorate the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4 in 1776.