An Egyptian man has been arrested in Saudi Arabia after a video of him having breakfast with a woman went viral on social media.
The man with an Egyptian dialect can be seen eating breakfast with a woman wearing a full-face veil, and many assumed that she is Saudi.
This is apparently a violation of the Saudi Arabia law, which states that families and single men have to sit in different areas in workplaces or eateries like McDonald’s and Starbucks.
Women are required to sit separately from single men in those places, and they are not allowed to carry out activities without being accompanied by their male guardians, usually their fathers or husbands, and sometimes their brothers or sons.
The Egyptian man has been arrested by the Saudi Ministry of Labour and Social Development, and he has been accused of “committing several violations and taking up a post exclusively reserved for Saudis”.
People have used the Arabic hashtag “an Egyptian having breakfast with a Saudi” more than 113,000 times on Twitter, which has become the center of a cultural divide.
The man and the woman briefly joke about eating their breakfast together in the 30-second-long video, but the point that caused controversy is at the end of the video, when the woman appears to feed the man.
Many Saudis were highly critical of both the man and the woman on social media, and they were wondering why is the man punished instead of the woman.
A Twitter user named Malak tweeted:
“I need to understand why men are constantly punished and not women. I am a Saudi [woman] and I swear I want them to punish her with him. Laughter, eating at the workplace… where are your limits?”
People also stressed that work relationships should transcend gender, and Twitter user Tarek Abd Alaziz called out for colleagues to be able to “joke or eat or do anything else among the general relations of humans”.
Not everyone agreed, however, and a user named Hammoud Alduhayian went on to say that developing jobs for Saudi women among foreigners is considered a breakdown of their country’s customs, traditions, and values.
Many Egyptian people, however, reacted with surprise at the complaint from Saudi Arabia, and they were wondering how could someone be arrested for a harmless video.
They also pointed out the inconsistencies between the arrest and the recent progression in women’s rights in the country, especially after women were given the right to drive back in May this year.
Osama Gaweesh, a TV presenter, said that he was very confused with the arrest. He asked a question aimed at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ‘if he really wants a new, open Saudi Arabia with concerts and movie theatres and beaches and a 2030 vision?’
Another Egyptian Twitter user named Sonia called it a result of “fragile egos” amongst Saudi men.