In Saudi Arabia there are no specific statutes or laws to govern by. The sole constitution that is used is the Quran, which all judges have to interpret conservatively. Many actions that are considered illegal have no actual written laws to ban them – a lot of them are not even addressed in the Quran.
Happy Valentine’s: Banned: Selling or wearing anything red on Valentine’s Day
Every February 14th entails the same procedure; flower shops and gift shops are prohibited from selling red roses, anything heart-shaped or red for that matter on that day by the “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice” (CPVPV) otherwise known as the Religious Police.
In many malls in Saudi, only “families” are allowed. And by families, they mean either women visiting a mall by themselves, or men who are accompanied by women. Mall security would not allow a group of men or a single man to enter unless a woman is with them.
The Movies: Movie theaters are prohibited and they are only located within private company compounds, such as theaters at Saudi Aramco residential camps. The usual reason given for banning them is that they allow for men and women to mingle unsupervised, leading to possible immoral actions outside the realm of marriage. For this reason, many Saudis who live close to the island nation of Bahrain drive over there on weekends to watch movies and drink, since alcohol is also prohibited in Saudi Arabia.
Music School: Music classes in public schools
Music is legal in Saudi Arabia and there is an active music industry. However, there are no formal schools to teach music. The general attitude for many religious people is that music is forbidden; malls and stores do not have music playing through speakers in order not to offend religious customers.
Gyms for Girls: Banned: Gyms and sports for women
For a while, private gyms for women were allowed to operate until the Religious Police decided to close them down for good. In girls’ schools and universities, there are no gym classes or sports teams, and therefore there are no professional women’s teams.
Women At Work: Women are not allowed to do most of the jobs that men can do in Saudi Arabia. Industry-wise, the sole company that employs female engineers is Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world. Other companies would not be allowed to hire women as engineers. Most women work in either education or the medical field. Women have only recently been allowed to work as store clerks or at department stores.
Women Behind the Wheel: Women driving
This is the most notorious ban involving Saudi women. Women have never been allowed to drive unless they drive in the desert or inside private compounds. Otherwise, families have to hire private drivers to take women to work and elsewhere if the men in the household have no time.