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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Watch: Dancing boy at Saudi street crossing ignites social media after reports of detention

A police spokesman said the boy's behaviour was 'disrupting traffic and was improper public behaviour'

Saudi police said on Tuesday they had detained a 14-year-old boy who was filmed dancing to the 1990s hit song Macarena at a street crossing in the coastal city of Jeddah, in a clip that was widely shared on social media. Seen here is a screengrab from the video.
Saudi police said on Tuesday they had detained a 14-year-old boy who was filmed dancing to the 1990s hit song Macarena at a street crossing in the coastal city of Jeddah, in a clip that was widely shared on social media. Seen here is a screengrab from the video.

Saudi police on Wednesday released a boy who was filmed dancing to the hit song Macarena at a junction in Jeddah.

The video, which went viral on social media in the kingdom in recent days, shows the 14-year-old boy swaying his hips and arms to the hit song from the 1990s, smiling and giggling throughout the dance.

Police spokesman Col Aati Al Qurashi said the boy, an Arab national, was taken to a police station along with his father, who was asked to sign a pledge vowing to protect his son and not to breach public morals.

The boy was then swiftly released from custody.

Police said the video appeared to be a year old.

On Tuesday there were reports that the boy had been detained for disrupting traffic and improper public ­behaviour after the video resurfaced.

Some social media users defended the boy, while others have said his behaviour was “unacceptable”.

“Jeddah boy dancing in the middle of Tahlia Street is the hero we need,” Ahmed Al Omran, a journalist, said on Twitter.

Traditional dance is permitted. Saudi King Salman and US president Donald Trump were filmed taking part in a traditional all-male Saudi sword dance in May when the president visited the kingdom to strengthen relations.

Although there have long been private concerts, Saudi Arabia’s young heir to the throne, 31-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has pushed for greater openings for public entertainment in the kingdom.

They include allowing a limited number of musical concerts after a ban of more than 20 years.

In May, American country music star Toby Keith performed in Riyadh before an all-male audience.

There is even talk of opening holiday beach resorts on the Red Sea coast.

The crown prince has also encouraged young Saudis to become more physically ­active as part of a wide-reaching reform agenda that includes raising life expectancy in the country.