Valentine's Day is now in full swing in Saudi Arabia, with enthused lovers clearing the heart shaped chocolate boxes off store shelves and emptying florists of their red roses, goods which were cautiously kept in back rooms not too long ago.
The kingdom has not officially lifted the ban on today’s celebration, but for one of the first years in history, there are no longer public injunctions for those choosing to partake in Valentine’s Day.
A green light from the government
The holiday got an important nod from the former president for the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in 2018. Sheikh Ahmed Qasim Al-Ghamdi announced Valentine’s Day as not contradict the Quran, marking it as a social event which also includes Muslims.
The senior Islamic leader spoke more about his approval with Arab News. “Celebrating Valentine’s Day does not contradict Islamic teachings as it is a worldly, social matter just like celebrating the National Day and Mother’s Day,” he said.
He furthered his argument by stating that: “All these are common social matters shared by humanity and are not religious issues that require the existence of religious proof to permit it.”
Who is celebrating Valentine’s day in KSA?
As Saudi Arabia continues to liberalise and invest in its entertainment industry, residents are increasingly partaking in leisurely activities such as munching on popcorn at the movies, headbanging at concerts or opting for a play: creating unprecedented opportunities for new encounters.
According to NPR, Saudi Arabia is seeing more men and women openly mixing in public. Though some are bothered by it, a normalization of dating is one of the latest signs of social change in the kingdom.
A boost for small business owners:
Today, this celebration of love is a big business around the world. Saudi Arabia is jumping on the bandwagon, Valentine’s day becoming a very lucrative time for local businesses, especially florists, restauration, and beauty salons.
The market research firm IBISWorld totaled over $18 billion spending worldwide on this red-tinted day.