Blame it on the boogie: Saudi entertainment authority bans 'dancing, swaying' at pop concert

Blame it on the boogie: Saudi entertainment authority bans 'dancing, swaying' at pop concert
2 min read
05 March, 2018
As a part of Saudi efforts to reform ultra-conservative social restrictions, authorities are planning to host a pop concert but have banned party-goers from dancing at the event.
Concerts were banned for two decades in Saudi Arabia [Getty]
Efforts by Saudi Arabia to reform ultra-conservative social restrictions has seen plans for a pop concert to be hosted in the country, but authorities have banned party-goers from dancing at the event.

The General Entertainment Authority [GEA] has warned that "dancing and swaying" have been strictly banned at Egyptian pop star Tamer Hosni's concert set to take place later this month, Makkah Newspaper reported on Saturday.

"Dancing would annoy other attendees and distract them," GEA official Mohammed al-Subaih told the local daily.

Subaih added that the agency wanted to provide entertainment that will "spread joy without offending public tastes and damaging national identity".

Some Saudi Twitter users have mocked the strict regulation with many sharing an image of a banner announcing the show's rules, which include a ban on "immodest clothing".

"A gig without dancing! That's like telling us to drink without getting drunk," said one Twitter user.

Concerts were banned for two decades in Saudi Arabia, along with music in restaurants and stores.

But the kingdom has recently been relaxing its decades-old restrictions on entertainment and fun, as part of a wider effort spearheaded by the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to boost the economy and increase household spending domestically.

Opera made its debut in Riyadh at last month with a classic Arabian love story, while bands from Beirut to New Orleans performed at the kingdom's first-ever jazz festival.

Long known for its ultra-conservative mores, the kingdom has embarked on a wide-ranging programme of social reforms that includes boosting sports and entertainment and allowing women to drive from June.

Since the appointment in June of the 32-year-old crown price as heir to the throne, Saudi Arabia has launched an image overhaul, lifting bans on cinemas, public music festivals and scaling back restrictions on women.

The GEA has announced it will stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts in 2018, double the number of last year, and pump $64 billion in the sector in the coming decade.