In Brief

Man arrested for eating breakfast with woman in Saudi Arabia

Egyptian hotel worker detained after ‘offensive’ video goes viral

Saudi authorities have detained an Egyptian hotel worker who filmed himself eating breakfast and joking with a female colleague.

The video was condemned by official as “offensive” after going viral and has “sparked outrage on social media in the ultra-conservative kingdom”, The Guardian reports. Saudi Arabia enforces strict segregation laws banning men and woman from sitting together in almost all public and work places unless they are related.

“The point that has prompted the most anger is at the end of the 30-second video”, when the woman, wearing a full face veil, appears to feed the man, the newspaper adds.

The man, who has not been named, was arrested in the port city of Jeddah by the Saudi Ministry of Labour and Social Development, which accused him of “committing several violations”.

The detainee, identified by local media as an Egyptian national, was also accused of “taking up a post exclusively reserved for Saudis”, under rules dictating which jobs may be taken by expat workers.

The ministry confirmed that it had “arrested an expatriate in Jeddah after he appeared in an offensive video”. The owner of the hotel has also been summoned for questioning.

Meanwhile, an Arabic hashtag that translates as “an Egyptian having breakfast with a Saudi” has been used more than 113,000 times on Twitter, “where it has become the centre of a cultural divide”, the BBC reports.

In recent months, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has instigated a drive toward modernisation that has “ended a decades-long ban on women driving, has seen cinemas reopen after 35 years, and some mixed-gender concerts allowed”, says The Guardian.

But the row over this video “underscores the challenges” faced by the royal in his attempts to liberalise the country, the newspaper concludes.

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