Riyadh: Saudi authorities have ordered the closure of a beach resort and temporarily halted cultural events following criticism of a controversial mixed-gender concert.
Authorities in the southern province of Jizan announced on Saturday that all further events have been cancelled until an investigation is carried out into the offending show, pro-government daily Okaz reported.
On Friday, a video emerged of a mixed-gender crowd at a concert in Jizan, prompting harsh criticism on social media from conservatives in the kingdom.
“In response to what has been circulated on social media about a mixed concert at a tourist resort in Jizan, the acting Emir has ordered an investigation to hold those responsible for any transgressions,” Ali bin Moussa, the spokesman for the Emir of Jizan, said in an online statement.
“The resort has been closed and all events halted,” he said.
Moussa added in a phone-in interview with local media that event had been organised by the Saudi Tourism Commission.
Some Saudis took to Twitter to complain that the “wild” music show had taken place too close to the Yemen frontier, where a war with rebels there has spilt over into Saudi border towns.
“Moral corruption on the beach as souls are sacrificed in the mountains,” said one Twitter user.
The move comes as Saudi Arabia has sought to ease social restrictions on women, who in public spaces are segregated from men or have a separate section for families.
Under the country’s guardianship system, a male family member – normally the father, husband or brother – must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities.
Riyadh in recent months has organised concerts, comedy shows, a Comic-Con pop culture festival and a mixed-gender national day celebration that saw people dancing in the streets to thumping electronic music for the first time.
This month, Lebanese singer Hiba Tawaji performed in the capital in its first female-only music concert.
Legendary Greek composer and pianist Yanni also performed to a packed mixed-gender audience, accompanied by female vocalists. (Agencies)