Saudi-Arabia made the news twice this week. The first time was meant to make people feel a bit better, the second time a bit worse.
The first message was that no one can beat the king of Saudi Arabia when it comes to vacation spending. King Salman spent the month of August in Morocco, which cost the kingdom a whopping 100 million dollars. King Salman is traveling with an entourage of no less than 1000 people, consisting of ministers, advisers, and relatives. Vacation for the royal party is being seen as a boost to the local tourism, as well as 1.5 per cent of the Morocco's entire tourism revenue for the summer. Peter Thiel, the advisor to President Trump and board member of Facebook, was quite right in his Zero to One book to state that Europeans have knack for going on vacation a lot, but we wonder what he would say about Saudi Arabian vacation time.
As for the second story, that one is a bit more disheartening. A 14-year old wanted to make a viral video apparently and filmed himself whilst dancing the Macarena in front of cars at a stoplight. In a 45-second video clip (which you can see here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2017/aug/23/saudi-police-arrest-14-year-old-boy-for-dancing-the-macarena-video ), shared widely on social media, the boy stops halfway across the road and starts the well-known dance routine.
The Saudi police did not find it all funny. He was promptly arrested for indecent behavior.
It is not the first time Saudi authorities have censored an ever wide social media phenomenon during the summer. Earlier this month, a local singer was arrested for using the 'dab' move in an onstage dance whilst last month footage emerged of a young woman wearing a miniskirt and crop top at an archaeological site. You can guess what happened next. Yes, she too was arrested.
Whilst the young generation Saudi’s seems to embrace social media and all that comes with it, the Saudi authorities are not yet quite ready to switch from religious conservatism into the 21st century.