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Wedding party in Saudi mall broken up by police

Unprecedented celebration causes consternation in conservative society

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 11:33 October 17, 2012
  • Gulf News

Wedding party in a Saudi mall
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • The bride, wearing a full-length white gown and a veil, and the groom in a black suit strut on the marble floor of Dhahran Mall arm-in-arm.

Manama: An Egyptian couple surprised thousands of shoppers when they celebrated their wedding at a shopping complex in Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia.

The bride, wearing a full-length white gown and a veil, and the groom in a black suit strutted on the marble floor of Dhahran Mall arm-in-arm, followed by friends and a flash mob of curious onlookers. Some women danced to the wedding music played by some of the guests, Saudi news site Sabq reported on Wednesday.

According to reports, the bridegroom, a teacher at a private school in Al Dhahran, and his bride celebrated their wedding in Egypt, took the plane while wearing their suit and gown to the airport of Dammam, the largest city in eastern Saudi Arabia.

Then, they headed straight to Al Dhahran shopping mall where they had planned another celebration with their friends and colleagues.

The couple, cheered by emotional well-wishers, marched to the food court where they sat for some time as people used their cameras and mobile phones to take pictures of the unprecedented event.

However, the celebrations drew the attention of members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the public morality police, who broke up the event and took the groom in for questioning.

The bride was taken by the wives of the groom’s colleagues out of the mall.

The teacher reportedly told the police that his actions were in a genuine good spirit and that he wanted to celebrate his wedding. He insisted that he was not aware of any rules banning public celebrations. However, he was told that the public celebration at the shopping mall was unacceptable in a conservative society that does not tolerate “odd behaviour”.

Instructions have been issued to submit the case to the competent authorities, Sabq reported. Most online commentators condemned the mall celebrations, saying that the parade was a charade and a challenge to local traditions.

“There is no dignity in what you have done,” Asaad said. “As a teacher, you are supposed to be aware of the rules of the country and make sure you do not turn a shopping mall into a cabaret.”

Jasser said that the couple used the mall to save money and not use an hotel for the celebrations. However, the few comments which welcomed the public display said that “even though the couple challenged the prevailing traditions, no action should be taken against them and that they should be allowed to enjoy their wedding”.

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