Saudi Arabia

Christmas decorations go on sale for first time in Saudi Arabia

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.

“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.

“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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