Saudi prince apologises for kissing singer Assala at concert
Prince Abdulrahman bin Musaad, the grandson of the kingdom’s former ruler King Abdulaziz, is seen giving Assala, 50, the intimate gesture as she enters a VIP box at a concert in Riyadh, provoking anger from the public for exposing the double standards that seem to allow Saudi royalty to engage in behaviour that most ordinary Saudis would be harshly punished for in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
On publication of the video however, the 55-year-old prince waded into the Twitterstorm - during which his name became a trending hashtag - using his personal account to issue apologies for his behaviour.
In an attempt to justify his act, bin Musaad tweeted: “My dear sister Assala, we have known each other for 25 years due to our close family ties.”
“You asked me - Assala - on that night, if I would allow you to let me kiss your head. So I said to her without thinking, I would let her do that,” he added.
The prince concluded his remarks by saying: “There is no more to it than that. I ask forgiveness from God almighty who knows my intentions and I repent to him.”
Bin Musaad then apologised after a fellow Twitter user asked him to.
The prince later attacked news channel Al-Jazeera for publishing an article including a video of the incident.
Despite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s so-called reform project, Saudi public life is governed by a strict set of rules, which classes outward displays of affection between the sexes as an offence to public decency.
Just several weeks ago, the kingdom issued a set of guidelines for newly permitted foreign tourists, which expressly warned against kissing in public, saying those in violation would be fined.
Part of bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” bill of reforms is an extensive programme of concerts and sports events, which have already drawn criticism for being out of touch with ordinary Saudis, who have experienced a decline in wages, opportunities and living standards over past decades.
Turki al-Sheikh, the Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Entertainment and close friend and enforcer for bin Salman, recently appealed to the public to take out loans in order to afford tickets for the newly legalised public and mixed-sex concerts, which most Saudis cannot afford.