The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is celebrating its first legal Valentine’s Day, a day which has been forbidden in the country for decades. 

Previously, the day was deemed un-Islmaic with strict laws in place. Store owners were obligated to hide red roses and chocolates on Valentine’s Day, and restaurant owners were pressured to ban birthday and anniversary celebrations on 14 February.

What changed?

In 2018, ormer President of Makkah’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) Sheikh Ahmed Qasim Al-Ghamdi declared that the celebration of Valentine’s Day did not actually contradict Islamic teachings.

According to him, the celebration of love was a universal phenomenon and not limited to the non-Muslim world. 

The legalisation Valentine’s Day comes amid the recent wave of liberalisation of traditional social conventions within the kingdom and the reforms being carried out by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in order to “modernise” the country.