Love is in the air as Saudis enjoy a red Valentine

Saudis enjoyed a hassle-free Valentine's Day in Saudi Arabia.
Updated 15 February 2017

Love is in the air as Saudis enjoy a red Valentine

JEDDAH: With fifty shades of red, local flower shops were celebrating the strong presence of red roses on Valentine’s Day on Tuesday in the absence of restrictions from the Committee of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, also known as the religious police.
Saudis wishing to celebrate Valentine’s Day have been able to purchase roses, which in previous years had been confiscated from flower shops by members of the religious authorities.
Many flower shops in Jeddah, visited by Arab News, were selling roses and flowers, albeit with hiked prices. Custom-made Valentine boxes with flowers and balloons start from SR550.
Meanwhile, Al-Hayat daily reported similar sales in Al-Ahsa and other Saudi areas. However, some flower shopkeepers opted voluntarily not to sell roses to avoid trouble with the religious authorities. No shop owners reported any problems.
One florist in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, however, preferred to avoid highlighting this occasion.
“I will not sell red roses on this day, as the matter does not need a ban order,” one anonymous Riyadh florist told Al-Hayat. “We have experienced problems in the past and I am not willing to go through the same dilemma again.”
Saudis on social media celebrated the annual day of love by posting affectionate messages, while others insisted that they will not celebrate it citing ideological reasons. Some Saudis say the event is a pagan ritual and refuse to participate because they believe it is an act to imitate the west.
Humor and irony were the dominant theme on this occasion among locals who shared sarcastic tweets and videos on their social platforms.
Nader (@LeoNader) posted a video of a football match featuring his favorite sports team with the caption: “This is my Valentine.” While Hassan (@iiHM_) shared a picture of NETFLIX saying: “You are my Valentine.”
Another Twitter user (@Sho_Sho232) expressed her feelings on how the Haia (the commission) members are missed on such occasion.
“And this is how we discovered that no one gives Valentine’s Day any significance other than the Haia. Valentine’s Day lost its spirit without our clergies.”
Many Saudis said that love should be celebrated throughout the year, not only for one day. “We experience love in every detail on our day. One day is not enough to celebrate it,” tweeted (@memo44447).
And like everywhere else in the world, some single Saudis who complained about spending the occasion alone tweeted funny posts suggesting that their Valentine date is going to be a... shawarma sandwich! “Thanks to my shawarma it has never let me down.”

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

Updated 20 October 2019

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

  • Development will protect endangered hawksbill turtle, while coral research could help save the Great Barrier Reef

RIYADH: Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.

The development will not only protect the habitat of the endangered hawksbill turtle, but could also save coral reefs that are dying elsewhere in the world, said Red Sea Development Company Chief Executive John Pagano.

The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.

One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination, but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill. “In the end, we said we’re not going to develop it. It shows you can balance development and conservation,” Pagano said.

Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world —  is thriving when others around the world are endangered.

“To the extent we solve that mystery, the ambition would be to export that to the rest of the world,” Pagano said. “Can we help save the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean coral that has been severely damaged?”


ALSO READ: INTERVIEW: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project to set ‘new global standards in sustainability’, says CEO