Seven things that will get you arrested in Saudi Arabia

Dabbing, making wine and celebrating your birthday are just some of the obscure crimes in the conservative country

Saudi Arabia women
Women wearing the traditional abaya gown and hijab headscarf

A woman in Saudi Arabia has been arrested after running onto a stage and hugging a male singer mid-performance.

Majid al-Mohandis was performing at a festival in the western city of Taif “when the woman darted on to the stage”, reports the BBC.

Videos posted online showed her holding on to Mohandis while security staff tried to pull her off him.

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The incident “is unusual in the deeply conservative country, which has only just started letting women attend events such as music concerts and sports matches”, says The Independent.

The deeply conservative country has a whole host of strict rules and laws - here are some of the more obscure things you can be arrested for:


The popular dance craze that swept the globe in 2017 is prohibited as it may be considered as a reference to drugs and drug use.

A Saudi singer who was captured on video performing the move was recently arrested and the Saudi Arabian government has even released a poster warning young people of the dangers of participating in the craze.

See more


A Saudi man was executed in 2012 on charges of “witchcraft and sorcery”.

“No details were given about what he was found guilty of beyond the charges of witchcraft and sorcery, but he did also admit to adultery - another criminal offence in Saudi Arabia”, says the BBC.

Making wine

In 2015, a 74-year-old British man was put in prison for more than a year for possessing homemade wine.

His family was worried he'd be subjected to public lashings, a traditional form of punishment in Saudi Arabia but he was eventually freed and returned to the UK after an online campaign.

Eating in the family section of restaurants if you’re on your own

Saudi laws state single men must eat in the men’s only section of the restaurant. Some restaurants “might allow women to eat by themselves in the family section, although this is mostly frowned upon”, says the travel website Expat Women. Most restaurants will only serve food to women ordering alone as take-away and not allow them to eat it by themselves in the restaurant.

Celebrating your birthday

Officially, celebrating religious or your own birthdays is banned in Saudi Arabia. The ban on birthdays “is in line with the strict interpretation of Islam followed by the conservative Wahhabi sect adhered to in the kingdom”, says the LA Times. All Christian and even most Muslim feasts are also prohibited because they are considered alien customs the Saudi clerics don't sanction.

LGBTQ relations

Homosexual acts, extra-marital sexual relations and being transgender are illegal and can be subject to severe penalties. The British government states that “transgender people travelling to Saudi Arabia are likely to face significant difficulties and risks if this is discovered by the authorities”.

Taking pictures of buildings or people

It is strictly forbidden from taking pictures of buildings or palaces while in the country. The Saudi Gazette, a leading English-language newspaper in Saudi Arabia, recently reported on the repercussions of street photography in the country. “Taking pictures as a hobby can lead you straight to prison if you violate the cybercrime law and post the picture online,” the paper writes.

It cites Article 3 of the 2007 cybercrime law, which says that anyone who takes a photo that violates someone’s privacy rights and then posts the photo to social media should be punished with one year in jail or a fine of up to 500,000 Saudi Riyals (£100,000).

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