Recently, a non-Muslim reader wrote to ask if she and her husband could kiss and cuddle in KSA in public. The couple plans to come to the kingdom for a holiday.
In all my years in Saudi Arabia, I never saw any couple behaving intimately in public places. However, Saudi authorities no longer monitor behaviour, and attitudes have relaxed considerably.
So, I decided to research what would happen if foreign visitor couples kissed, cuddled, and acted romantically in public.
I learned the following.
So, Can Tourists Kiss And Cuddle In Public In Saudi Arabia?
In Saudi Arabia, romantic kissing and cuddling in public is prohibited and socially unacceptable. Intimate and sexual acts violate codes of public decency and attract penalties, fines and condemnation. Couples may hold hands, link arms, and touch shoulders, but it must be legal and acceptable.
In most non-Muslim countries, people consider kissing and cuddling normal in public. However, in Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country, it is illegal and still Islamically unacceptable.
In this article, I will explain why it is against the law, the penalties for intimate displays of public affection (PDA), and offer advice on the appropriate ways to behave in public places.
Table of Contents
(Click on the link to jump to section and arrow to return)
- Why Kissing And Cuddling Are Against The Law
- Penalties And Fines For Intimate Displays Of Public Affection (PDA) – Story A Couple Kiss
- The Appropriate Way For Couples To Show Affection
- Related Questions
- References And Useful Links
1. Why Kissing And Cuddling Are Against Saudi Law
Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country, and Islam governs the rules of public behaviour. Religious and conservative values call for personal modesty, respect, and public decency.
Saudi law prohibits intimate kissing, cuddling, and other sexual behaviours in public.
Also, such behaviour is socially unacceptable and can cause public offence. Muslims consider it disgraceful and objectionable.
2. What Are The Penalties And Fines For Intimate Displays Of Public Affection (PDA)?
Authorities regard couples’ intimate kissing and cuddling in public areas as acts of a sexual nature.
Violations of a sexual nature attract spot fines of SR 3,000 ($800) for each offender. The penalty for a repeated violation is SR 6,000 ($1,600).
Public homosexual acts and behaviors are also illegal and punishable. Gay or lesbian couples have no rights under the law.
Penalties for indecent homosexual acts include more severe penalties such as imprisonment and deportation.
Story – A Couple Kiss And Get A Penalty
One day, I was walking with my family at the Jeddah Corniche when I noticed a man greeting a woman.
They shook hands and kissed cheeks. Then, a police officer approached the couple and inquired about their relationship.
We heard the man say they were friends. The two attempted to explain the situation. They claimed they were unaware that kissing the opposite gender in public, whether related or not, was illegal.
They spoke with the police officer for more than five minutes.
They were non-Muslims staying in Saudi Arabia on business and unaware of the rules.
The police officer was firm and professional but was not rude or unkind. However, he reported the couple and issued them a spot fine of SR3,000.By Maryam Hussain
Tourists and visitors should be mindful of the laws concerning public decency law and social taboos and avoid violating them.
3. The Appropriate Way For Couples To Show Affection
Despite the restrictions and prohibitions, the kingdom allows couples to show affection in respectful ways that accord with Islamic values.
Tourists and visitor couples may hold hands, link arms, touch shoulders, arms, and nonsexual parts, and walk close together.
They should not snuggle, smooch or be overly affectionate. They can kiss the top of their partner’s heads and hands and show affection discreetly.
To know correct intimate behaviour, observe local parents and other young married couples. They are physically close but NEVER overly affectionate.
Save any kisses and cuddles for private moments and behind closed doors.
To learn how to greet appropriately in Saudi Arabia just like Muslims, Saudi men and women, click to read Inside Saudi’s, ‘How Do You Meet And Greet Like A Saudi?
Though acceptable in most non-Muslim countries, kissing and cuddling in Saudi Arabia in public are forbidden and socially not tolerated.
The penalties for acts of public indecency are a spot fine of SR 3,000 ($800) per person and SR 6,000 (1,600) for repeat offenders.
By acknowledging and respecting cultural norms, visitors and tourists will enjoy an uninterrupted, carefree stay in the kingdom.
Respecting the laws and cultural customs will allow you to have a pleasant stay without legal consequences.
Can Unmarried Couples Hold Hands In Public Places In Saudi Arabia? Yes! Formerly, the state prohibited married or unmarried couples from affectionately holding hands. Today, authorities no longer closely monitor public behaviour, and individual citizens cannot interfere in personal affairs.
Can Single People Date In Saudi Arabia? No! It is against Islam. There is no dating culture in the Saudi kingdom. and most Muslims do not meet other unrelated singles romantically except for work or business. A few people have hookups and illicit relations, but nearly all are secret.
Should Women Avoid Wearing Tight Clothing In Saudi Arabia? Yes! Female visitors or tourists should not wear tight clothing that clearly shows body contours. Instead, they should wear loose-fitting clothing out of respect for Islam and avoid offending citizens and other Muslims.
References and Useful Links
Saudi Public Decency Code – Arab News
LGBT Rights In Saudi Arabia – Equaldex
How Do You Meet And Greet Like A Saudi? insidesaudi.com