As I begin to settle into my new diggs in Jeddah, I started to explore the city and find some good food shops and coffee houses and whatnot. There is even a florist nearby with roses in the windows held by large, fuzzy bears with “I love you”s all over. I stopped in front of the shop this morning to admire the bears and think about all of the lonely Valentine’s Days that I have had. Little did i know that I was looking into the heart of the Saudi black market.
Perhaps you have heard by now (probably not though), but Valentine’s Day is now illegal in the KSA. The religious police here have officially banned the holiday as it is considered a pagan holiday. In recent weeks, the religious police have been taking out ads in papers and on TV warning strict punishment for those that try to celebrate with flowers, cuddly bears, gifts or anything red.
[tweetmeme] Of course, the ban did not prevent the shop down the street from openly selling the banned items. Indeed, the ban has raised prices for such goods as not all vendors are willing to take the risk. There has been some creative backlash to the ban, though.
Although this now annual anti-Valentines Day push be the government might seem like small shakes, it is anything but. Ok, its pretty minor, but still kind of interesting…