Saudi Arabia Arrests Egyptian Man for Eating Breakfast with a Woman

Saudi Arabia still has some of the world's toughest restrictions on women

Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested an Egyptian hotel worker on Sunday after he was filmed in an “offensive” video eating breakfast alongside a female co-worker.

The video, uploaded to social media, caused outrage after it showed the pair eating breakfast at a hotel desk in the western city of Mecca. The woman, seen wearing the full Islamic niqab, waved at the camera before feeding the man with her hand.

The footage immediately sparked outrage on social media in the Islamic fundamentalist Kingdom, with critics citing government regulations stipulating that the two sexes should eat separately within private settings.

“The labor ministry arrested an expatriate in Jeddah after he appeared in an offensive video,” the ministry said in a statement on Sunday, while the hotel owner was also summoned for “for failing to adhere to spatial controls for employing women.”

The man in the video was later identified as an Egyptian national, which also contravenes rules that only allow Saudis to work in such a profession. Public prosecutors have since issued a statement urging foreign residents to respect the “values and traditions of Saudi society.”

Such incidents may undermine Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s attempts to liberalize the country and move away from its strict adherence to Islamic Sharia Law.

Over the past 18 months, Prince Salman has introduced reforms to women’s rights as part of his “Vision 2030″ economic program. Such reforms include allowing women to drive cars, participate in various sports, attend soccer matches, open their own businesses, and to find employment in the Kingdom’s ministry of justice.

Women’s rights still remain vastly behind that of the rest of the world and Salman has emboldened a recent crackdown on women’s rights activists. They were accused of seeking to “destabilize the kingdom and breach its social structure and mar the national consistency.”

All women must also continue to wear a hijab, while many are forced to wear burqas, where only their eyes are visible. Last year, a woman was also arrested for wearing “suggestive clothing” after a Snapchat video emerged of her wearing a miniskirt. She was later released without charge.

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