Riyadh: The annual festival of Christmas, which used to be celebrated in private spaces and secret in Saudi Arabia, has become more open after the Kingdom's reforms, the Arab News reported, quoting expatriates and tourists.
Shops, cafes, shopping centres etc., are changing themselves for the festival, similar to other parts of the world where Christmas is celebrated, creating wonder in most. There are online retailers now operating in the Kingdom for decorations and Christmas related goods. Merchandises related to the festival are also being sold in the open more than they used to be.
Some expatriates are staying in the Kingdom during this holiday season due to travel restrictions, but in contrast to earlier times, Saudi has brought the festival to the country. Some expatriates told Arab News that though they are in Saudi, the growing tolerance to the festival makes them feel more at home.
Some foreigners working in the country are planning to celebrate Christmas by having a traditional Christmas lunch with their colleagues from Saudi.
A few also told Arab News that they have been invited by friends to spend Christmas with them. While appreciating the Kingdom's decision to accept faiths, a citizen opined that it is okay for her to celebrate Christmas and New Year, just like Saudi celebrates Hijri year.
Another Saudi national said that she believes in allowing other faiths to celebrate their special days, though she doesn't follow other faiths' celebrations or customs. Religions should not fight one another or prevent one from following their traditions, she said. However, acceptance does not mean celebrating others' faith but giving them the freedom to pursue their own, she said.