Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested a number of suspected revelers after a video emerged showing them drinking and dancing at a ‘mixed’ party in Jeddah, local media report.
The clip, posted on YouTube last Tuesday, shows a group of young men and women enjoying themselves on the terrace of a building while music plays in the background. The women are dressed in Western-style clothes while bottles and drinks, presumably alcoholic, are seen on the table.
After the clip went viral, Jeddah police organized a special task force to look into the video led by Major-General Saeed Al-Qarni and supervised by Jeddah police chief Brigadier-General Abdulwahab Al-Asiri, according to the Saudi daily newspaper Okaz.
The team used imaging analysis to locate the address of the apparent get-together, which they identified by observing the Jeddah Flagpole seen in the background. The Jeddah Flagpole is the highest flagpole in the world since its inauguration in 2014, rising 170 meters from the ground.
The chief suspect, a Jordanian, was arrested while trying to flee the country. After being questioned by the police, he eventually admitted to organizing the party. Afterwards, three female guests, a Lebanese woman and her friends, were questioned and admitted to being at the party, reported Almasar Online.
The case has been referred to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution, which may proceed to press charges, and work has begun to identify any other guests.
The accused potentially face a particularly harsh punishment. Saudi Arabia has strict rules governing the mixed socialization of unrelated men and women, as well as a total ban on the use and sale of alcohol. Unlike some other Islamic countries, the rules apply equally to Muslims and non-believers. In November 2015, a 74-year-old British grandfather, Karl Andree, was freed after spending a year in prison and being threatened with over 350 lashes after being caught with a homemade brew.