Saudi Arabia Arrested A Man. His Crime? He Had Breakfast With A Woman

According to Saudi Arabia's sex segregation laws, women need to be separate from men who don't belong to their close families

The authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested an Egyptian man earlier this week for featuring in a video he had uploaded on social media. In the video, the man can be seen being fed by a female colleague at his workplace — a hotel in the coastal city of Jeddah.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said the man was arrested for appearing in an “offensive video” and cited violations of rules, including those “regulating women’s placement at work”. He was arrested and charged with failing to adhere to government regulations that stipulate a gender-segregated workplace that is inherently biased towards women.

According to SaudiNews50, the woman was later arrested as well. Their employer was summoned and is accused of violating rules regulating women’s placement at work, the ministry said.

According to the Gulf Kingdom’s sex segregation laws, women need to be separate from men who don’t belong to their close families. The mixing of non-kin men and women at parties, restaurants and other public places is outlawed and offenders can receive punishments ranging from lashes to being deported (if they’re expats).

The arrest comes despite a slew of social reforms undertaken by Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as per which the Kingdom opened its first theatre in 30 years, held concerts, allowed women to drive as well as attend football matches in stadiums. However, at the same time, the Saudi Arabian government also intensified the crackdown on dissenters, especially women’s rights activists including Samar Badawi and Loujain al-Hathloul.