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Manama: Saudis in the northern areas drew on their imagination and sense of fun as they braved the cold weather to build snow camels in a rare tribute to the local culture.

One citizen in the Province of Tarif used his snow camel to promote the colours of local teams, drawing praise from the fans, while another opted for the traditional ghitra and agal to cover the head of the snowman he built.

However, it was not all fun for Saudis after a religious scholar said that building snowmen or snow animals was not acceptable in Islam.

The fatwa, by Mohammad Saleh Al Minjed, said that building snowmen or any replica of an animal, even if it is for fun or recreation, could not be condoned. Only lifeless things, such as ships, fruit and buildings could be imitated, the fatwa said.

No date was mentioned about when the fatwa was issued, but it was widely circulated on social networks, triggering a wide and often heated online debate mainly among Gulf nationals.

Those who supported the fatwa said that building snowmen was a crude imitation of the West.

“It has no value in our traditions, and those who are fascinated by the West should emulate their inventions and sciences, not their culture,” a blogger said, Al Marsad news site reported on Monday.

However, Mishaal, an angry blogger, blasted the fatwa.

“We have snow for fleeting days, maybe even hours, and there is always someone who wants to rob us of the joy and the fun,” he posted. “It seems that the only thing left for us is to sit down and drink coffee,” he said.