Saudi Arabia arrests man over breakfast with woman

AFP, RIYADH

Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 6

Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested an Egyptian hotel worker who appeared in what officials described as an “offensive” video, eating breakfast with a female coworker.

The video, which sparked outrage on social media in ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, showed the pair sharing a meal at a desk.

The woman, draped head-to-toe in a niqab covering, is seen waving to the camera and feeding the man — who was filming — with her hand.

“The labor ministry arrested an expatriate in Jeddah after he appeared in an offensive video,” the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labor said in a statement on Sunday.

Local media identified the man as an Egyptian national.

The ministry said the hotel owner had also been summoned for failing to adhere to government regulations that stipulate a gender-segregated workplace.

As the video sparked a torrent of criticism from arch-conservatives, the public prosecution urged expatriates in the kingdom to respect “values and traditions of Saudi Arabian society.”

The incident comes in the midst of a far-reaching liberalization drive by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that has ended decades-long bans on women driving, women going to movie theaters and mixed-gender audiences at concerts.

The backlash underscores the challenges facing the prince as he seeks to modernize a kingdom steeped in conservatism.