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The New Arab Staff

Saudis outraged by video of women in swimsuits just enjoying themselves at the beach

Private resorts in Saudi throw underground mixed-sex parties. [Screengrab]

Date of publication: 24 August, 2020

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A group of young men and women dancing in swimwear to Arabic tunes sparked outrage in Saudi Arabia.
A video allegedly taken at a private Saudi beach showing partygoers dressed in swimwear and dancing with a Lebanese flag around a DJ booth has sparked anger in the conservative kingdom.

The short video clip, which has received a million views on Twitter, shows a group of young men and women dancing to music played by a DJ wearing a t-shirt that depicts a marijuana leaf.

An Arabic-language hashtag "Lebanese strip down in Al Khobar" started trending on Twitter with hundreds of tweets calling for legal action.

The gathering was hosted in Saudi's Al-Khobar, a sunny coastal city with several private resorts allow entry to foreign tourists but bar Saudi citizens, a source with knowledge of tourist parties in the kingdom told The New Arab.

Critics accused the alleged that the partygoers broke Saudi law by "refusing to adhere to local values" and "insulting Islam" - the official religion of the kingdom. A few called on authorities to deport the expatriates.

"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," one Twitter user wrote.

Read also: Outrage after Vogue Arabia films raunchy photoshoot in holy Medina

A few anonymous Saudi accounts defended the partygoers and called for greater tolerance in order to encourage tourism, a key component of Riyadh's plans 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 has been frowned upon in the ultra-conservative kingdom for decades but Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has relaxed some social restrictions as part of wider reforms.

Activists allege the reform drive by the de-facto ruler are a "charade" to present Saudi Arabia as a modern and reformist kingdom despite the continued imprisonment of rights activists, including women and pro-democracy campaigners.

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