Ever since Crown Price Mohammed Bin Salman became the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, the world has hailed him the “revolutionary prince.”
In a bid to socially reform the secluded kingdom, women were legally allowed to drive, which was a huge win for the female population. Not only that, cinemas opened after decades and women were allowed to attend concerts. The progressive steps were applauded as much needed to bring Saudi Arabia on par with the rest of the world.
However, fresh controversy brewed when a Saudi woman was arrested for what would be considered typical fangirl behavior.
While attending a concert by male Iraqi singer Majid al-Mohandis, a young woman darted onto the stage and hugged the performer. The impromptu act resulted in her arrest.
The incident divided the nation, with people claiming after all its declarations of reforms, the country has, in fact, not really changed at all.
And excited hugs while watching your favorite singer perform is only one of the many eyebrow-raising acts that could possibly get one arrested in Saudi Arabia.
While visiting the ultra-conservative kingdom, one should be careful of avoiding the following acts, as compiled by The Week, if they want to remain out of jail.
Yes, Dabbing. Suffice to say the particular dance move has taken over the world, with everyone from athletes to performers to politicians bowing down to the craze.
However, if you dare do the move in Saudi Arabia, you will get arrested.
In 2017, a Saudi singer was arrested after dabbing mid-performance as the nation considers it a reference to the narcotics culture.
In 2012, a Saudi man was reportedly executed for performing “witchcraft and sorcery.”
“No details were given about what he was found guilty of beyond the charges of witchcraft and sorcery, but he did also admit to adultery - another criminal offense in Saudi Arabia”, according to the BBC.
There have been reports more people have been executed on similar charges.
A British man was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2015 and faced over a year in prison after he was found in possession of homemade wine. Alcohol is strictly banned in the country.
The 74-year-old man’s family campaigned for his release. He was also going to be punished with 750 public lashes. However, upon his release he evaded the punishment.
According to Expat Women, Saudi law states single men are banned from dining in family areas. Some restaurants may allow single women to eat alone in family areas, however, not many welcome it.
Some eateries were recently criticized for sporting supposedly illegal “women not allowed” signs outside their restaurants.
Celebrating birthdays and other religious holidays:
A prominent cleric in Saudi Arabia deemed birthday parties “haram,” which is an Arabic word for something banned or not allowed. He called them the result of “western influences.”
In 2015, the health ministry in the country also banned celebration of birthdays and Christmas in hospitals. The religious edict was issued after news surfaced that hospitals allowed non-Muslims employees to celebrate their religious holidays.
Extra and pre-marital affairs are strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia and the severe penalties are graver for members of the LGBTQ community.
The British government stated that “transgender people traveling to Saudi Arabia are likely to face significant difficulties and risks if this is discovered by the authorities.”
Street photography, especially of government buildings and holy sites:
Saudi Arabia has banned photography of holy mosques, citing protection of the sites and disturbance in religious activity to visitors.
Public photography and sharing pictures online without permission and consent can lead to humongous fines and even jail time.
Saudi Arabia might have taken a few steps to liberate its population of a few draconian laws, but it clearly has a long way to go.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS, Hamad I Mohammed