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A young woman has been arrested after footage spread of her walking one of Saudi Arabia’s most conservative provinces in a mini-skirt, according to the country’s state TV.
The videos appeared on the Snapchat account of a young woman called “Khulood” and showed her wandering an ancient fort in the heritage village of Ushaiqer, about 95 miles north of Riyadh, dressed in a short skirt and black top.
Her head was also uncovered in the short clips, which quickly went viral.
Reports earlier this week that Khulood was being hunted by religious police appeared to be confirmed by Al Ekhbariya, a state-owned channel.
“Riyadh police arrested a woman dressed in indecent clothing in the village of Ushayqir, and has sent her to the public prosecutor,” the network said in a tweet.
A Riyadh police spokesman explained in a statement to CNN: “She admitted to visiting the site in question with a male guardian, and that the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge.”
Khulood’s arrest on the grounds of wearing “indecent clothing” follows an outpouring of outrage from conservative social media users who castigated her breaking of strict Saudi dress codes.
Saudi writer Ibrahim al-Munayif told 41,000 Twitter followers that women should stick to the rules.
“Just like we call on people to respect the laws of countries they travel to, people must also respect the laws of this country,” he wrote.
Outside of their homes and all-female settings, women in Saudi Arabia are mandated by a Sharia-based law system to wear ‘modest’ clothes including a full-length loose-fitting cloak known as an abaya.
They are also expected to carry scarves in case they are asked to cover their head by the country’s religious police, known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
Another Twitter user posted a picture of Queen Elizabeth fastening a head covering as she visited the United Arab Emirates in 2010.
“The Queen of Britain respected the place when she visited the UAE!” he wrote.
Others, however, defended Khulood, pointing out that Melania and Ivanka Trump did not wear headscarves on their visit to Riyadh in May.
Amal al-Hazzani, writer and academic, meanwhile suggested that if Saudi Arabia seeks to court Western tourists as it tries to wean itself off dependence on oil, it must relax the rules.
“Suppose that this girl is an Italian tourist who wanted to know about our great heritage as part of our vision for 2030 of not being dependent on oil use. Get used to that,” he wrote.
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