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Christmas decorations go on sale for first time in Saudi Arabia

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Christmas has finally arrived in Saudi Arabia as glittery ornaments are being sold on the streets of Riyadh.

In recent years, festive sales have gradually crept into the capital Riyadh, a sign of loosening social restrictions after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged to steer the Gulf kingdom towards a more open society.

“I didn’t ever imagine I’d see this” in Saudi Arabia, a Riyadh resident told AFP at the shop selling trees, Santa Claus outfits as well as tinsel, baubles and other ornaments.

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“I am surprised,” said the resident, declining to be identified.

“It was very difficult to find such” Christmas items in the kingdom, said Mary, a Lebanese expat based in Riyadh.

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“Many of my friends used to buy them from Lebanon or Syria and bring them into the country,” she said.

But in a sign of the changing times, the Riyadh shop manager, Omar, who declined to provide his surname, said his store sold not just Christmas items but also outfits for Halloween.

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