Saudi Woman On Trial For Hosting Mixed Concert

From Gulf News:
A Saudi businesswoman has been referred to the court in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after she planned to host a concert for a mixed audience of men and women.

The businesswoman who was not named is facing charges of “fraud, cheating and lying to government agencies.”

Her trial is scheduled to start within days, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Sunday.

According to the suit filed by the public prosecutor, the businesswoman had applied to host a dinner for the staff of her company to celebrate the first anniversary of its establishment.

In her request, she mentioned that the programme would include a welcome speech, a presentation of the company, the honouring of outstanding staff and the distribution of prizes and awards. A dinner will complement the ceremony, she said.

Her application was approved by the competent agency on the condition of not adding any other event to the programme and of providing separate seating form men and women.

However, the businesswoman, after securing the authorities’ approval, added a concert at the ceremony and launched a promotion campaign that included social media, particularly Instagram, a highly popular application in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf countries.

The advertisement featured the picture of the singer and said tickets for the concert would be sold for SR350.

Alerted about the concert ad, the public prosecution summoned the businesswoman who said that she had applied to host a gathering for her company at a public hall and that she had promoted it on social media. She added she had printed 500 tickets and was able to sell 200.

She attributed her failure to inform the authorities about the concert to her “lack of knowledge” about the system and insisted she had never intended to cheat or to lie.

The investigators eventually accused her of fraud, cheating and lying to government agencies in order to secure a permit to host a concert for men and women in a public hall.

The public prosecutor insisted that her act was “morally banned” and that she should be punished. He also called for the reimbursement of the people who had bought the tickets.

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