In the Saudi Kingdom, a video allegedly taken at a private Saudi beach showing party goers dressed in swimwear and dancing around a DJ booth with a Lebanese flag has sparked anger among the residents.
The short video clip, receiving a million views on Twitter, features a group of young men and women dancing to music played by a DJ wearing a t-shirt depicting a marijuana leaf.
According to details, with hundreds of tweets calling for legal action, an Arabic-language hashtag “Lebanese strip down in Al Khobar” began trending on Twitter.
The gathering was hosted in Saudi’s Al-Khobar, a sunny coastal town with several private resorts allowing entry to foreign tourists but bar Saudi citizens, a source with knowledge of the kingdom’s tourist parties told the sources.
Critics accused the suspected party-goers of breaking Saudi law by “refusing to adhere to local traditions” and “insulting Islam”-the kingdom’s official religion. Some requested that authorities deport the expatriates.
One user wrote,
“It is the duty of every expatriate who came to the kingdom in order to seek livelihood, work or tourism, whatever his nationality is, to respect the people of the country and their customs and values.”
A few anonymous Saudi accounts defended party leaders and called for greater tolerance to promote tourism, which is a key component of Riyadh’s efforts to diversify its economy away from oil.
“What does it have to do with your values? You can see they’re at the beach, so it’s normal for them to dress that way. If you report regular people living their lives there won’t be any tourists coming to Saudi Arabia,” another person responded to the critics.
Mixing between the sexes in the ultra-conservative kingdom has been frowned upon for decades but as part of broader changes, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has relaxed some social restrictions.
Activists argue that the de-facto ruler ‘s reform push is a “charade” to portray Saudi Arabia as a new and reformist kingdom given the continued imprisonment of women and rights activists.