Riyadh: Saudi authorities have arrested an Egyptian hotel worker who appeared in what officials described as an “offensive” video eating breakfast with a female co-worker.
The footage, which sparked outrage on social media in the ultra-conservative kingdom, showed the pair sharing a meal at a desk.
The woman, draped head-to-toe in Islamic niqab, is seen waving to the camera and feeding the man — who was filming — with her hand.
“The labour ministry arrested an expatriate in Jeddah after he appeared in an offensive video,” the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Local media has identified the man as an Egyptian national.
The ministry said the hotel owner had also been summoned for failing to adhere to government regulations that stipulate a gender-segregated workplace.
As the video sparked a torrent of criticism from arch-conservatives, the public prosecution urged expats in the kingdom to respect “values and traditions of Saudi society”.
The incident comes in the midst of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s far-reaching liberalisation drive that have ended decades-long bans on women driving and cinemas, and allowed some mixed-gender concerts.
The backlash underscores the challenges facing the prince as he seeks to modernise a country steeped in conservatism.
In April, Saudi sports authorities shut down a female fitness centre in Riyadh over a contentious promotional video that appeared to show a woman in tight gym clothes.
Later in June, Saudi Arabia sacked the head of its entertainment authority, following an online backlash against a circus featuring women wearing skintight leotards.