Sami Zayn reflects on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia.
WWE’s Night of Champions event in May marked the first time since 2014 that Sami Zayn had competed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While Zayn, who is of Syrian descent, has not provided an official reason for why he hadn’t appeared at previous WWE events in the Kingdom in recent years, there was speculation that it was because of Syria and Saudi Arabia’s strained relationship.
During a recent interview with Alex McCarthy of Inside The Ropes, Zayn reflected on how important the trip was for him.
“That was a pretty big deal for me for a number of reasons. That whole trip was really, really remarkable. I guess on some level, even as a child, being an Arab or Muslim growing up, never really seeing a positive representation of that in media, I always just assumed if I ever got to WWE that I would have to play a terrorist — I don’t know if you can use that, but you know what I’m saying — that was the perception and portrayal of Arabs and Muslims on television, never mind WWE, just in media. It was always sort of a thing in the back of my head, ‘Man, I’d love to change that one day.'”
Zayn also noted that Night of Champions came off like a regular premium live event in that it coincided with the company’s biggest storylines as opposed to some of the early events from 2018-19 that featured WWE legends in action.
“To be able to really embrace that and the fact that even a major premium live event like that was coming and it wasn’t just like — those early Saudi Arabia shows felt very not WWE-ish,” Zayn said. “They felt like, ‘Here is a WWE show taking place somewhere else,’ and we happened to be able to watch it. But now, that was a seamless part of the show.
“It was a progression in the story with The Bloodline and everything else, and it just so happened to be in Saudi Arabia. For that to converge with this wonderful story that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of for the last year, for that to converge with this moment of me being able to come before my people and be there and have that sort of return, under those circumstances, was very, very special.”
Zayn and Owens defeated defeat Solo Sikoa and Roman Reigns in the Night of Champions main event to retain their Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship. They later retained the titles against Pretty Deadly on the June 30 episode of WWE SmackDown.
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to WrestleZone for the transcription.