A Rose By Any Other Name
Buying a red, or even a pink rose for Valentine’s Day requires discretion in Saudi Arabia. Love struck young Saudis who want to say “I love you” with flowers often take their prize bouquet away from the florists in a black bin bag.
Saudi Arabia’s religious conservatives regard Valentine’s Day as a pagan Western holiday alien to Muslim culture. Anticipating unannounced visits from the mutawwa, (the moral police), most Riyadh retailers remove Valentine-related items from their shelves and stash them in storage rooms or warehouses. The campaign doesn’t suit all Muslims, or non-Muslim customers who want to show their affections on the day that lovebirds around the globe usually exchange gifts and romantic tokens…
Valentine’s Gifts: A Symbol of Love or An Empty Gesture?
In 2009, the Saudi Education department launched a preventative campaign against the holiday. It’s an interesting issue if you ask me and one that’s worth looking at from both sides:
On the one hand Saudi Islamic scholars are trying to remind Muslims that they only have two holidays a year, the religious feast days of Eid al Adha and Eid al Fitr. Some would say there is validity in preserving traditions and that Saudi Arabia is well within its rights to refuse to accept the customs of other nations.
On the other, modern technology and exposure to international media has revealed the charm of Valentine’s Day to a young, more liberal community of young Saudis, some of whom quite like the idea of using one day to wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Love for a Day and Love For a Lifetime…
There’s a really interesting article from February ‘09 in The Global Post, which features the opinions of handful of Saudis on the issue. The one that most drew my attention was the opinion of “Abadoyo”; a Saudi Muslim who makes the point that love is something that we feel every day.
“There is no problem about love. You can love anybody. You love your Mama, your Daddy, your family … not only on Feb. 14, but all year long, you can love.”
What do you think of Valentine’s Day? Got an unusual gift idea or think it’s a load of hot air?
“The whisper of a pretty girl can be heard further than the roar of a lion.” – Arabic Proverb