Saudi detains man who ate meal with female co-worker

Clay Curtis
September 13, 2018

In a 30-second video that went viral in Saudi Arabia, a hotel worker invites his viewers to "join us" in breakfast as he shares a meal with a veiled female colleague. In this video, the pair could be seen eating breakfast together at a table.

From the Ministry of Labor and Social Development they report that the arrested person is of Bahá'í faith [a monotheistic Abrahamic religion, born in Iran] and will be tried in court.

Many Saudis on social media were highly critical of both the man and the woman, with the majority of people wondering why the man was punished instead of the woman.

Their employer was summoned and is accused of violating rules regulating women's placement at work, the ministry added. The video also shows the woman feeding him a piece of food.

An Egyptian man working for a multinational company in Jeddah was arrested for appearing in the video after he chose to upload the video on social media. Saudi Arabia enforces strict segregation laws banning men and woman from sitting together in nearly all public and work places unless they are related.

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Government regulations stipulate that workplaces should ensure a private setting for female employees separate from males, but in practice this is not uniformly applied. She was covered from head to toe in black Islamic niqab.

As the video sparked a torrent of criticism from arch-conservatives, the public prosecution urged expats in the kingdom to respect "values and traditions of Saudi society".

Among a number of social reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, women have been granted the right to drive, but activists are facing a clampdown on dissent.

It was not immediately clear if the woman in the video was arrested.

For most activities, women are required to be accompanied by a male guardian, typically a close male relative.

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