From breaking world records to breaking the rules, Saudi Arabia's and the region's first and biggest electronic festival was all together something to witness.
MDL Beast - a "Middle East" pun, it seems - did in fact attract 400,000 people in the capital Riyadh over the course of three days. What it also attracted with such a big number was harassment and indecency, especially when it comes to what was just a few months back called an "ultraconservative" kingdom.
Not fully a week after the event wrapped up last Saturday, Saudi authorities arrested 24 individuals in relation to sexual harassment incidents that were reported at MDL Beast. Police acted on clues they found in viral videos capturing a group of people harassing concert-goers at the event.
Once proven guilty on charges of harassment, defendants will be tried under the country's anti-sexual harassment law, the spokesman of Riyadh Region Police Lt. Col. Shaker Bin Sulaiman Al-Twaijri said.
Penalties listed under the legislation - which was introduced as part of a royal decree issued in 2017 - include prison sentences of up to two years and fines of up to 100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,646).
The action taken by authorities comes just days after a hashtag titled "Harassment MDL Beast" exposed sexual harassers who preyed on women, men, and individuals with physical disabilities at the event.
One of those who spoke up about their experience at MDL Beast is an online user known as Denean. The young woman said that the levels of sexual harassment she experienced and witnessed at MDL Beast were "ridiculous."
As harassment ramped up from day one to day three, a Saudi man on a wheelchair fell victim to such assaults as well. In a video posted online, he reproached a group of men for kissing his cheeks and trying to pull him off his chair to dance.
Many others were left disgusted and in disbelief at what went down during the three-day electronic festival. But with something as big and new happening in a kingdom that banned music and hailed gender segregation at the beginning of the same year during which concerts and cinemas were finally allowed, immorality was bound to take place.
Harassment remains unexcusable, and it seems Saudi Arabia is making a loud statement with the arrests.
The organizers of MDL Beast released no statement regarding the virality of the harassment or the arrests.
The event in itself was a grand success and was reported to have won a Guinness World Record for "world's tallest temporary stage." It hosted international artists like R3HAB, Afrojack, Steve Aoki, David Guetta, Salvatore Ganacci, and Sebastian Ingrosso. Despite of the massive efforts put and the materialization of the wild dream of hosting an electronic festival in Saudi Arabia, mixed sentiments formed a halo above the event.
Women who violated public decency laws were also captured by authorities
Nine women were detained on grounds of transgressing the country's public decency law.
Women were seen dancing without abayas on - even though abayas are not mandatory when it comes to tourists, only - and in tight-fitting clothes. Videos captured women in sleeveless dresses, tank tops, and see-through clothes.
No further information was provided on their offenses or on the incidents related to their arrests. The detainments could be linked to a wide range of actions that are criminalized under the kingdom's public decency law. Wearing immodest clothing or garments with questionable prints on them is punishable by law. Not wearing an abaya is felonious for Saudi women and residents but not for tourists. For men, wearing shorts or walking in public in white underwear garments is also an offense.
Those who violate the law can face fines up to 5,000 Saudi riyals ($1,333) for first-time offenders. Second and third-time offenses can carry jail terms.
Sarah Trad contributed to this article.