JEDDAH: Love is in the air and hearts and flowers are everywhere as the Kingdom prepares to celebrate the once “haram” Valentine’s Day tomorrow.
As recently as three years ago it would have been unthinkable — Saudi Arabia’s feared religious police saw to that.
Florists and confectioners used to hide their red roses and heart-shaped chocolate in fear of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV). Restaurant owners even banned birthday or anniversary celebrations on Feb. 14 for fear of arrest or closure.
A breakthrough came in 2018, when former Makkah CPVPV President Sheikh Ahmed Qasim Al-Ghamdi declared that Valentine’s Day did not contradict Islamic teaching or doctrine. Celebrating love was universal,and not limited to non-Muslims, he said.
Now Saudis are buying extravagant gifts, flowers, cheesy balloons and even the cliched teddy bears for that special person.
To help readers to get the most out of Valentine’s, Arab News has compiled an essential guide. We have advice on romantic getaways, whether you’re on a budget, or ready to splash out on a rented yacht in the Red Sea or a cultural heritage hotel in a palm oasis in the Eastern Province.