Saudi Arabia Arrests Man for Eating Breakfast With Female Coworker

Lamar Ellis
September 13, 2018

An Egyptian man is now cooling his heels in a Saudi Arabia prison after he was filmed in a viral video having an "offensive" meal with a woman who fed him bread in the clip.

In the past few years, Saudi women have acquired several new rights, including the right to vote in all elections and be elected for political office, the right to access government services such as healthcare and education without a guardian's consent and more recently, the right to drive.

Strict segregation between men and women is enforced in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi authorities have arrested an Egyptian hotel worker who appeared in what officials described as an "offensive" video eating breakfast with a female co-worker.

Women are exempted from carrying out most outside activities without being accompanied by a man, father, husband, brother or son.

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.

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In footage shared widely on social media, the pair eat breakfast at a desk and wave at the camera.

The ministry has also summoned the owner of the hotel "for failing to adhere to spatial controls for employing women", the statement added.

In Egypt, many people reacted with surprise at the outcry from Saudi Arabia and wondered how anyone could be arrested for what they regarded as an innocuous video.

After the video went viral and sparked a torrent of criticism from conservatives, thousands of social media users took to Twitter to defend the Egyptian man, with the Arabic hashtag Egyptian having breakfast with a Saudi woman becoming a trending topic in the kingdom.

Cinemas were opened after 35 years and mixed gender concerts were allowed in the country.

Some even said the woman should have been arrested too.

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