The security guard escorting the man in an abaya out of the mall. Image Credit: Screengrab

Dubai: An Egyptian resident was arrested on Monday by Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province police for disguising himself in an abaya at a shopping mall in Khobar.

The arrest follows a viral video on social media platforms showing the expat wearing an abaya, paired with high-heeled shoes, and being escorted by a mall guard, presumably to remove him from the premises.

The reason behind the expatriate’s actions remains unknown as he is currently under investigation.

A spokesperson for the Eastern Province Police emphasised that such actions “distort the Saudi society image known for good morals in appearance and behaviour.”

It was further pointed out that while guards at public places and markets can report cases of cross-dressing, the authority to arrest lies solely with the police.

Cross-dressing in Saudi Arabia, particularly in public dresses in attire associated with the opposite gender, may lead to severe consequences.

A legal expert, Al Wahaibi, has previously highlighted that individuals, who imitate the appearance and dressing of the opposite gender, face up to three years in prison.

He clarified, “This is not a felony. It is a crime, punishable by up to three years in prison.”

In 2021 five Saudi men were arrested in the Northern Borders province after they were found cross-dressing, capturing the act on video, and sharing it on social media.