RIYADH: The local authorities on Sunday closed down the country’s first ever nightclub located in the coastal city of Jeddah due to an ongoing investigation that was launched last week.
Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) was quoted as saying that the venue – referred to as Project X – did not receive the necessary licence to operate.
In a statement posted on its official Twitter account, the GEA announced the opening of an immediate investigation into videos circulating online that was seemingly showing the inside of the venue.
حسب الضوابط الشرعية
والبنت كررت إنه بار حلال
يوجد اماكن VIP
الدخول من ٣٧٠ إلى ٥٠٠ pic.twitter.com/FSuFl2pWmw
— Ashq Sayd Almquaoma (@AshqSaydAlmquao) June 11, 2019
“According to information provided, the event was in violation of the legal procedure and regulations and was not authorised by the body. The GEA had originally issued a license for another event. Its contractor then took advantage of an extension of that license to commit these serious and unacceptable violations,” the statement read.
Online videos of performances that took place in the venue a day before were also brought to the GEA’s attention. The videos showed men and women dancing in public. Another video had a woman explaining the set-up of the club, with a ‘halal bar’ and ‘shisha’ that ranged from SR 370-500 Saudi riyals.
The development comes just before US-based singer Ne-Yo was scheduled to make headlines at the club’s grand opening during the waterfront festival in Jeddah on Thursday. The venue was reportedly a branch of the White brand, which also has clubs in Dubai and Beirut.
Concert-goers were further quoted as saying that they waited for four hours at the venue before they were turned away.
The opening drew a wide range of reactions on social media, with some users applauding it as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform plan to modernise the conservative kingdom, despite a severe crackdown on activists and human rights defenders, reported Al Jazeera.