Saudi Arabia: No Red Hearts or Roses

It is kind of ironic.  Red hearts, teddy bears and roses are always readily available in the conservative capital of Riyadh…except on Valentine’s Day.  Sometimes I think this is the one day that the Muttawa look forward to the most.  They will enter into florist shops, party stores or any other store that may have a festive appearance to ensure that the shopkeepers are not supporting the prohibited day of Valentine’s Day.

But, as we all know, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Many young men and women in the Kingdom take great pride in their ability to show someone special how much they love them with something special.  While red hearts, teddy bears or roses might be the most traditional, Saudi Arabia does have some of the finest chocolate selections and arrangements in the world.  Chocolates and lovely gifts will prevail.

My late husband always surprised me on Valentine’s Day.  In the States or elsewhere he would present me with red roses and a memorable gift.  Once we were in Saudi Arabia it became a tradition that Valentine’s Day would be a ‘date night.’

We would typically go to the Globe restaurant located on the topmost floor of Al-Fasiliyah.  With the glittering city of Riyadh as a magnificent backdrop we’d enjoy a fine meal as we expressed the deep and strong love we had for one another.

Others who celebrated in the Kingdom may honor their loved one in a different way.  Even if live roses are difficult to find, many a young woman (or man) will probably receive a romantic musical greeting card embellished with roses and a stirring personal message…via email.

The muttawa may try their hardest to prevent Cupid’s arrow from striking but as we all know, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

To those who enjoy recognizing loved ones and dear friends, American Bedu wishes you a Happy Valentines Day!

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14 Responses

  1. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your loved ones, Carol!

  2. I am sure most people plan ahead so that this doesn’t become an issue. It is ridiculous though.

    Happy Valentines Day, Carol.

  3. So glad that you and your hubby did celebrate V-day. (yes, love is victory. :D) Of course, marital love is living it daily. But it is nice for a couple to at least celebrate the day with a small gesture.

  4. LONG live Muttawas.

    Their interference is prescribed by law, satisfy legitimate aim, necessary in a democratic society.

  5. Snowman:

    Funny. I like a good joke. 🙂

  6. .. democratic society

    What a funny way to describe Saudi Arabia!

    In any event it is too bad that the religious authorities are such devoted joy killers.

  7. Bigstick is right, I just order my roses a day ahead of time. If they block the roses any earlier, I have someone bring them over the causeway from Bahrain. Two step process so far is just one step ahead of the matawahs.
    It’s refreshing how the the spirit of St. Valentine still exists to ward off those that try to oppress the expression of Love.

  8. please explain the rational for this policy? A sweet harmless celebration of love.

  9. Lets avoid controversy at all costs, how awful not to be able to celebrate St Valentine’s day with red roses and other silly tat.
    How about Hamza Kashgari? That’s real human rights.

  10. Yes, Um Omar, it is too bad that Valentine’s Day is not the worst of the problems in SA however it does provide a bit of comic relief.

    May all the Muttawas have a very lovely Valentine’s Day!!

    A special prayer and hope for widows and widowers on this day. (This is for you Carol as well as my sister who lost a husband 8 years ago.)

  11. Hey, Riyadh! Pick March 14th and send a rose, candy or just a note of love and appreciation to the people you wanted to…. and call it Saudi Love day. Your loved ones will feel special no matter what day you choose to send them a rose.

    There are plenty of Valentine Day stuff still for sale in all these shops in the United States days after the 14th. After all we have lost the true meanings of these special days and have just kept the price tags.

    Do what works for your culture! Rise above the influence of other societies and make choices that work for your country!. Try to avoid the unnecessary arguments, frustration and undue stress. Because when you are able to compromise, collaborate and come together on things that truly matter, then changes are much quicker, and valuable for you and your generations to follow. Trust me …. Western societies do not have all the right answers!

    Believe me! I learned this the hard way. LOL

  12. Earlier today my local news station posted a link about Valentine’s around the world. It consists of 12 pictures and TWO EACH are from Riyadh (which it notes doesn’t celebrate), Damascus and Pakistan. Indonesia is also in there. I thought it was funny how much of it was focused on Muslim countries.

    If you care to look: http://www.digtriad.com/news/photo-gallery.aspx?storyid=214379

  13. Inspite of all the reminders i totally forgot the red day ( i do have the excuse of being on -call) and towards the end of a miserable 14hr day, i heard a patients girlfriend shriek ” you can’t do this to me on valentine’s day”.. to her blood sprouting from you know where – in agony boyfriend….i wonder what they were doing.
    oh god 🙂 🙂
    so i called F who was in the middle of a long surgery and asked him what day it was…after a beat of silence he said ,it’s not a b’day or anniv so i dont care !!!! and everyone in his OR yelled valentine’s day and made F bring over a huge vase of flowers .. now my house smells of lavender.. made my day.
    it was a funny sight to see all the interns and attendings stop and stare at the boss,lugging around fading flowers in a mask 🙂

  14. @Radhaa – I love it!!!!

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