At the start of 2019, Saudi Arabia's newly appointed General Entertainment Authority chairman, Turki Al Al-Sheikh, said the kingdom will be granting cafes and restaurants licenses to host musical events, stand-up comedy shows, and magic tricks.
To the misfortune of a newly opened restaurant in Arar governorate, Mazaj, the management seemed to have skipped the important bit of requesting a license before hosting a party for its opening night.
On Sunday, the governor of the country's Northern regions, Prince Khaled bin Faisal bin Sultan, issued orders for action to be taken against the owners for hosting the unlicensed event and "allowing immoral violations to take place at their venue," Okaz newspaper reported.
The decision came days after the opening party - which took place on the 14th of March - after videos of people dancing to loud music were uploaded online.
In one of the clips, men can be seen partying, dancing, and performing dabke. In another, a man seems to be throwing money in the air in celebration. Some women were also spotted in the footage, stirring even more fury on Twitter since mixed-gender events are strictly prohibited in the kingdom.
One online user posted a photo of a police car in front of the venue on its opening night, writing "thank God the restaurant was shut down." However, it has since been reopened.
Saudis had a lot to say, with opposing viewpoints.
"Yes for fighting immorality and disobedience"
"The prince didn't shut down the restaurant??"
However, many people thought the event was quite normal
"I don't think there's anything wrong with this, it's just a few hours of fun. Nothing less or more."
"Because having fun needs a license..."
The restaurant's owners have since issued an apologetic public statement
The owner's brother apologized to the Saudi public over "mistakes that were made on the opening night."
"What happened was unintentional, people kept coming into the resort and we couldn't control the situation. It was an opening party. Some of the things that took place don't reflect our values and traditions and yes, there were mistakes. People had a right to criticize," he said.
The man also explained that women and men were only in the same hall because it was the opening night. He stressed that the restaurant has an area designated to women and families, and another one, separate, for men.