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'Halal nightclub' will not sheikh up Saudi Arabia after conservative backlash

The nightclub announcement was seen as part of the kingdom's much-trumpeted modernisation drive [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 June, 2019

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A nightclub set to be opened in the coastal city of Jeddah will not open it's doors for its opening night following complaints from conservatives.

The proposed 'halal nightclub' will not open in Saudi Arabia after a backlash from conservatives.

Saudi authorities have decided to close the night club, which was supposed to open in the coastal city of Jeddah, after social networking sites witnessed a storm of protests against the club's opening.

Dubai and Beirut nightclub brand White said this week that a new branch would open its doors in Jeddah.

Those in favour of the latest venue, which will only serve non-alcoholic cocktails, tweeted using the Arabic-language hashtag #JeddahDisco.

Opponents of the move expressed their frustration under the rival hashtag meaning: "I don't accept forbidden acts on Jeddah beach".

The Saudi General Authority for Entertainment ended the social media wars in the kingdom when it declared it was opening an immediate investigation into the night club that had been a "violation of the legal proceedings" and "had not been licensed".

White had lined up American singer Ne-Yo for its opening night, with entry costing between €71-€222 per person.

"Was excited to perform for you and en route to the venue I was told it had been shutdown," Ne-Yo posted on Instagram.

Saudi authorities claimed they had "issued a licence for another event", but "its contractor then took advantage of an extension of that licence to commit these serious and unacceptable violations".

The CEO of the venue told news website Arabian Business that the club would be a high-end cafe and lounge.

"The Saudi market will be great, because the local community goes out a lot. You have people in the country who go out a lot," Tony Habre was quoted as saying.

The nightclub opening comes as authorities lead a much-trumpeted drive to modernise the conservative kingdom that has included giving women the right to drive.

The kingdom at the meantime faces criticism over the detention and ongoing trials of several women activists, seen as part of a broad crackdown on dissent.

It also faced severe backlash in October after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was blamed for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by a hit-squad in the kingdom's Turkey-based consulate.

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