Watch: Saudi woman arrested for hugging singer on stage

A woman in Saudi Arabia has been arrested after she ran on stage to hug a male singer during a concert, the media reported.

Singer Majid al-Mohandis was performing at a festival in the western city of Taif on Friday when the woman darted on to the stage, the BBC reported on Saturday. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to mix in public with men who are unrelated to them.

The police arrested the woman and referred her to the public prosecution to face charges under the law criminalising harassment. “The suspect is held at the Al-Taif Foundation for Women’s Care pending investigation,” the Mecca police official spokesman said.

Videos posted online showed the woman holding on to Mohandis while security staff tried to pull her off him. Mohandis, whose website calls him “the prince of Arab singing”, has not commented on the incident.

The Iraqi-born singer, who also has Saudi citizenship, continued to perform after the incident.

Restrictions that had long been placed on women attending public events in the Kingdom have been relaxed in the past year under a series of reforms by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Vision 2030”, unveiled last year, aims to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities in the oil-dependent kingdom from 2.9 per cent to 6 per cent by 2030.

Saudi earlier allowed women to attend a concert and a football match for the first time and the Kingdom also hosted its first concert by a female singer, Lebanese star Hiba Tawaji, in December. Women were also allowed to drive from last month.

But significant restrictions remain in place and women still have to adhere to strict dress codes. The unnamed women seen hugging Mohandis was wearing a naqab, a head dress that shows only the eyes.

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