Man arrested after breakfast with woman in Saudi Arabia

A close up of the video showing the man and woman having breakfast together.
Image caption Arrested after eating this meal

An Egyptian man in Saudi Arabia has been arrested after a video of him having breakfast with a woman went viral on Twitter.

In the video, a man with an Egyptian dialect eats breakfast beside a woman wearing a full face veil, who many assumed to be Saudi.

This is in contravention with law in Saudi Arabia, where in workplaces or eateries like McDonald’s and Starbucks, families and single men have to sit in different areas.

Women must sit separately from single men in these places.

They are not allowed to exercise most activities without being accompanied by their male guardians, usually a father or husband, but possibly a brother or a son.

The man was arrested by the Saudi Ministry of Labour and Social Development, who accused him of “committing several violations and taking up a post exclusively reserved for Saudis”.

The Arabic hashtag “an Egyptian having breakfast with a Saudi” has been used over 113,000 times on Twitter, where it has become the centre of a cultural divide.

The view from Saudi Arabia

In the 30-second video, the man and woman briefly joke about eating their breakfast together, with nobody else invited.

But the point which has caused the most consternation comes at the end of the video, when the woman appears to feed the man.

Many Saudis on social media were highly critical of both the man and the woman, with the majority of people wondering why the man was punished instead of the woman.

“I need to understand why men are constantly punished and not women,” said Twitter user Malak. “I am a Saudi [woman] and I swear I want them to punish her with him. Laughter, eating at the workplace… where are your limits?”

Some people meanwhile stressed that work relationships should transcend gender, with Twitter user Tarek Abd Alaziz calling for colleagues to be able to “joke or eat or do anything else among the general relations of humans”.

But not everyone agreed, with Hammoud Alduhayian saying that “developing jobs for Saudi women among foreigners is considered an explicit breakdown of customs, traditions, and values.”

 

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