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February 14, 2020

Saudis celebrate Valentine’s Day today

Top Story

February 14, 2020

JEDDAH: Love is in the air and hearts and flowers are everywhere as the Kingdom prepares to celebrate the once “haram” Valentine’s Day today. As recently as three years ago it would have been unthinkable — Saudi Arabia’s feared religious police saw to that, foreign media reported.

Florists and confectioners used to hide their red roses and heart-shaped chocolate in fear of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV). Restaurant owners even banned birthday or anniversary celebrations on Feb. 14 for fear of arrest or closure.

A breakthrough came in 2018, when former Makkah CPVPV President Sheikh Ahmed Qasim Al-Ghamdi declared that Valentine’s Day did not contradict Islamic teaching or doctrine. Celebrating love was universal, and not limited to non-Muslims, he said. Now Saudis are buying extravagant gifts, flowers, cheesy balloons and even the cliched teddy bears for that special person.