Christmas Is No Longer Celebrated Behind Closed Doors in Saudi Arabia

Published December 22nd, 2020 - 07:28 GMT
Expats living in Saudi Arabia choose Christmas decorations at a gift shop in the capital Riyadh on December 7, 2020. For decades, Christmas sales were largely underground, and Christians from the Philippines, Lebanon and other countries celebrated behind closed doors or in expat enclaves. (AFP)
Expats living in Saudi Arabia choose Christmas decorations at a gift shop in the capital Riyadh on December 7, 2020. For decades, Christmas sales were largely underground, and Christians from the Philippines, Lebanon and other countries celebrated behind closed doors or in expat enclaves. (AFP)
Highlights
Non-Muslim celebrations are finally being marked publicly in Saudi Arabia.

For the first time ever, Christians from across the globe, living in Saudi Arabia, are finally able to celebrate the birth of Christ in public as the kingdom has lifted the ban on Christmas items.

Saudi gift shops were allowed not to only sell Christmas trees, but also Santa costumes, tinsel, baubles and other ornaments. Moreover, shops had also sold Halloween items back in November.

People have hailed Saudi Arabia’s decision as a sign of loosening social restrictions, which has come after the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman vowed to turn the country into a more open place toward different religions and cultures.

Last year, the Saudi government banned a Christmas event and warned to take serious measures against its organizers and prohibited the new year celebration.

A Riyadh resident told AFP at the shop that contains Christmas decorations: "I have never imagined I'd see this in Saudi Arabia!”

Couple of years ago, non-Muslim celebrations were totally banned in the kingdom and strict measures were taken against any kind of practice of non Muslim rituals or moving and possessing any religious or celebratory artifacts. 


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