RIYADH: A semi-nude dance performance on Jazan streets has prompted the Saudi Arabian government to order a probe.
Women dancers, some considered too scantily clad, performed Samba during Jazan Winter Festival. They wore colored feathers emblematic of the Brazilian tradition with their legs, arms, and bellies uncovered.
State-run El-Ekhbariya TV aired footage of the festival but blurred images of the women.
“Shows are for entertainment, not to attack good ways and to go against religion and social morals,” one Jazan resident, Mohammed al-Bajwi told the channel.
On social media many others were indignant, demanding punishment for those responsible for the event.
One Twitter user, Ahmad al-Saneh, however, said he did not consider the dancers’ dress excessively immodest. In Saudi Arabia, most local women still wear traditional cloak-like robes in public.
Faced with the conservative backlash Jazan’s governor, Prince Mohammed bin Nasser, early Saturday ordered an inquiry and “necessary measures to prevent all abuse.”
He did not elaborate. For the past five years Saudi Arabia, where two-thirds of the population is younger than 30, has been introducing a wide range of entertainment and sporting events from music concerts to cinema and a Formula One Grand Prix auto race.
The move, despite resistance from conservative hardliners, is part of a broad initiative by de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for social reform and economic diversification of the oil-dependent economy, which hosts Islam’s holiest sites.