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No Dancing, No Swaying: Saudi Pop Concert Comes With Warning

No Dancing, No Swaying: Saudi Pop Concert Comes With Warning


The authorities also instructed ticket vendors to show concertgoers a longer list of rules: No smoking. “Modest outfits” required. Men and women segregated.

“To those going to the Tamer Hosny concert: don’t dance or sway. Just pray for the Prophet,” Mezan, a Twitter user from Saudi Arabia, wrote.

“The attendees must perform their ablutions before coming so they can perform the evening prayers right after the concert,” another Twitter user added sarcastically.

The restrictions represented another example of how foreign cultural imports like concerts have been adjusted to fit with the kingdom’s ultraconservative society.

Prince Mohammed, 32, has moved rapidly and radically since he was named crown prince in 2017. He has confronted Iran, Saudi Arabia’s Middle East rival; ordered the arrests of princes and members of the Saudi business elite in what he called an anticorruption crackdown; and curbed the powers of clerics.

In September 2017, the government announced that it would lift the ban on women driving this year. Since then, it has hosted several concerts, including one by the Greek composer Yanni, and promised to allow commercial movie theaters, ending a 35-year ban.

His modernizing campaign also includes a plan to reduce the petroleum-rich kingdom’s near-total reliance on oil revenue, and to attract tourism.

Many Saudi conservatives are deeply uncomfortable with Prince Mohammed’s reforms, although they have mostly kept quiet, fearing arrest. Many of the online posts about Mr. Hosny’s concert condemned the concert, not the rules governing it.

“I spit on Tamer Hosny and I spit on those who have given him the go-ahead,” wrote Tabuk Tabuki, a Twitter user from Saudi Arabia.

“To the government of Saudi Arabia, we pledged allegiance to you according to Allah’s book,” he said, adding that the authorities should not expect Saudis to accept their rule if they persisted in what he called violations of Muslim laws.

Such protests seem to have done little to deter Prince Mohammed so far. Later this month the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, is scheduled to host a fashion show.

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, has been ruled according to a strict interpretation of Islamic law since it was founded in 1932. It is home to Mecca, the spiritual heart of Islam.





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