Almost a month ago, Saudi Arabia drew widespread ridicule for prohibiting concertgoers from what appeared to be the definition of having fun at a concert: no dancing, no swaying even.
A lot of people questioned what attendees would do if they couldn't even sway at a musical event. However, as it turns out, people managed to have fun, despite the bizarre restrictions, which also included "modest outfits" and gender segregation.
The concert, by Tamer Hosny, a popular Egyptian singer, was held on March 30. The Saudi Gazette reported the 6,000 tickets for Hosny's show sold in less than two hours.
Over the past couple of years, Saudi Arabia has gone through historic cultural reforms. For example, the government has allowed more women to join the workforce and to drive cars. In addition, authorities have after decades allowed the re-opening of movie theaters, arranged comic-cons, concerts, etc.
The reforms, spearheaded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are part of a bigger strategy to help the Gulf kingdom move past oil-dependence and rely more on other sources of income such as tourism.
While the transition is ongoing, the ultraconservative society is, predictably, facing challenges to adjust tradition with progress, as was seen in the form of dancing and swaying restrictions at Hosny's concert.
But people in Saudi Arabia are welcoming the changes, nevertheless.
Men and women took selfies at the concert as they enjoyed what up until this year was a rare form of entertainment in their country.
During the concert, Hosny, according to local Saudi media, asked the audience to turn on the flashlights on their cellphones as he ordered the stage lights to be dimmed.
“The whole world has to see this,” the singer said as he filmed the entire scene with his own cellphone.
“It feels like I’m singing for the first time," he announced at one point as people chanted his name. "I’ll wake up from this dream now."
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