Christmas is now lively in Saudi Arabia, residents remember celebrating secretly

INDONEWTRAVEL.COM - A number of foreigners living in Saudi Arabia are free to celebrate Christmas this year. This is in contrast to previous years, when Christmas celebrations were carried out quietly.

Sydney Turnbull, one of the foreigners from the United States (US) said he had always celebrated Christmas in secret since he set foot in Saudi.

"You hear stories of people smuggling Christmas trees and celebrating in private, but you never see decorations or festivals of colorful lights outside like in America," he said.

The situation began to change. Christmas ornaments and accessories started popping up in shop windows and gift products lined the shelves.

"This year in particular is probably the most common Christmas display," said Turnbull.

He told the cafe manager to change the decoration like a country in winter. Then there is the snowman bejeweled with diamonds.

"Starbucks offers the same holiday-themed cups that my friends and family have back home," said Turnbull.

Interestingly, Turnbull said, some local cafes offer a merry Christmas and New Year calendar.

"Yesterday I received an e-mail from a top restaurant in Riyadh offering a New Year's Eve celebration. This would have been unheard of a few years ago."

Enrico Catania also felt the joy of Christmas. The Italian said Christmas celebrations were more open in Jeddah.

"There has been a relaxation since 2015 in celebrating culture which was barely allowed in the period leading up to 2015," Catania said.

Give each other gifts

Meanwhile, a housewife from Jeddah named Ashwag Bamhafooz claimed to be invited to celebrate Christmas with her husband's friends from the Philippines.

"My mother's family, although they are Lebanese Sunnis, celebrate Christmas and give each other gifts," Bamhafooz said.

He himself also has no problem celebrating Christmas and the new year like celebrating the Hijri year.
Under the reign of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudis seem to want to encourage a culture of tolerance. This is to create a friendly atmosphere among fellow citizens living in Saudi.

The kingdom paid great attention to encouraging the coexistence, acceptance and assimilation of foreign cultures in society by eliminating the religious police.

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