Thursday, February 13, 2014

It’s Valentine’s Day in the Kingdom!…….Not!

            As Valentine’s Day approaches us, this is yet another day, besides New Years Day, that is celebrated in the United States but is not observed openly in Saudi Arabia. Although it is not specifically addressed in the Quran, the celebration is believed to be a day that fosters “immoral relations between unmarried men and women”.

            The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention has volunteers, called the Matawa (religious police) who support the commission and enforce Sharia Laws by keeping the sexes segregated, arrest unrelated females and males caught mingling in public and making sure that stores comply with closures during the prayer times.  In relation to Valentine’s Day, they canvass the neighborhood stores to make sure they are not selling paraphernalia that is red or heart-shaped (i.e. roses, chocolates) that appears it could be given to a “Sweetie”. So basically, everything related to Valentine’s Day is banned. The consequences for violating the rules is the store being shut down. So, about as close as I am going to get to anything here that is red is my new purse! 

            Like anything, there is always a work around. Most Saudis just travel away from this area and go to places such as Dubai to celebrate. So to avoid my beliefs being imposed upon....I am on my way to Dubai for the weekend too!  Catch you there!

 All the best,



  1. I always enjoy your post and look forward to your adventures. Even though I am presently unable to relocate there yet (at least through govt. even though I work VA), I still enjoy your perceptions of Saudi life. Keep'em coming.

    Abdullah Kirk

  2. Hello Abdullah! I appreciate your comments and thanks for your readership! GMarie

  3. Hello GMarie! What advice would you give a female about to visit Dammam Saudi Arabia? I noticed not all of your pictures showed you covered. I have been searching the web for information on what to expect. Thanks.

  4. Hello Dorcie! The only three places that I have visited in the Middle East where I did not have to wear an abaya was Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Dubai. Here in Riyadh, an abaya is worn and in select places, when asked by the Matawa (religious police), the hair must be covered. Other than that, on the compound, I can wear anything I like and out in town under the abaya, I can wear what I like. As far as footwear, you can wear shoes, sandals or boots. In some public places wear Westerners are you are allowed to remove the abaya such as some of the hotel restaurants, the bowling alley or horse races. I hope you have a great trip. I hear the shopping there is nice! Thanks for reading! GMarie