Saudi Arabia celebrated the festival of Halloween, with the images on social media showing participants roaming around in capital Riyadh wearing scary costumes. The "scary weekend" was celebrated from Thursday to Sunday. This is a change from the kingdom's earlier stand where Halloween was banned till a few years ago. But, under its Vision 2030, the celebrations have been allowed. However, the celebration left social media users divided, with some appreciating the opening up of the kingdom, while others condemning the move.
In 2018, several news outlets had reported that Saudi police raided a Halloween party and arrested dozens of people who were dressed in spooky attires.
They had ordered women dressed in "strange clothes" "cover themselves".
But this year, strangely-dressed people took over the streets of Riyadh. They were dressed like monsters, witches, bank robbers and even French maids.
"If we go back to the way we were, this wasn't part of our customs and traditions," Yahya al-Hazzazi, a local, told The New York Times.
"Saudi is changing," Abdulaziz Khaled, a finance student, told the outlet.
#Weekend_horror and "costume of evil" were the top trends on Twitter as the kingdom celebrated Halloween. But the reactions were mixed.
"These images were taken in Riyadh. The crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman, has started to allow Halloween Celebrations in Saudi Arabia, in the name of "reformism". This is not reformism or innovation but rather dishonor and degeneracy. We do not accept this!" research writer and President of the Turkic World Youth Council Ramazan Izol tweeted.
These images were taken in Riyadh. The crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman, has started to allow Halloween Celebrations in Saudi Arabia, in the name of “reformism”. This is not reformism or innovation but rather dishonor and degeneracy. We do not accept this! 😡 pic.twitter.com/eVyRUSaqUQ— Ramazan İzol (@ramazanizoltr) October 31, 2022
"Saudi Arabia openly celebrating Halloween is extremely scary to me," said another.
Others were happy that the kingdom if finally opening up. "Halloween in Saudi Arabia this year... SIMPLY BRILLIANT" one of the Twitter users said.
The change started with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, now heir to the throne and prime minister, began to rise to power in 2015 and started removing of social restrictions.
Halloween is celebrated every year on October 31. It is a fun festival of spooky magic and people like to dress up in fancy dress costumes of ghosts, ghouls and monsters, make pumpkin lanterns, go trick or treating and tell ghost stories.
Public Halloween celebrations began in the Saudi capital for the first time in 2021.