Singer Aryam sparked religious police incident in Saudi Arabia

Singer says she went to UAE stand not to sing but as a delegate

The UAE female singer Aryam was at the heart of an incident involving storming of the country’s stand at an a Saudi cultural festival by a member of the Gulf Kingdom’s feared religious police, the signer has said.

Aryam confirmed she went to the UAE pavilion at the annual Genaderia festivities but added she was there as a delegate of the UAE and had no intention to sing.

“I went to the UAE stand as a delegate and congratulated them on their folklore…I stayed there for 20 seconds and had no intention to sing,” she said, quoted by Arabic language newspapers in the region. “I strongly respect the traditions of Saudi Arabia and all Gulf states and I consider myself a Saudi woman.”

Aryam, of Egyptian origin, said she had been invited by the Abu Dhabi Culture and Tourism Authority to visit the national pavilion when the incident took place.

“I respect their traditions and had no intention to sign or perform anything,” said the 33-year-old Dubai-based Aryam, whose real name is Reem Shaaban Hassan.

Early this week, the UAE stand issued a statement clarifying why a member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stormed the stand before he was forced out by members of the Gulf Kingdom’s national guards. It said the cop was attracted by the presence of an Emirati female artist at the stand.

Also at the festival in the capital Riyadh, several Saudi religious police men stormed the UAE pavilion on Sunday and evicted three Emirati young men because “they are too handsome,” according to the Saudi news website Elaph.

The statement by the UAE pavilion noted that the singer’s visit was not previously arranged and that she had come to the UAE pavilion by “coincidence.”

“Her visit to the UAE stand was a coincidence as it was not included in the programme which we had already provided to the festival’s management,” Saeed Al Kaabi, head of the UAE delegation to the festival, said in a statement.

A U-Tube film published in Saudi newspapers this week showed national guard members were evicting a Commission member from the UAE pavilion at Genaderia festivities in Riyadh after he stormed the stand.

The incident triggered furor in the Kingdom, with the Commission Chairman Abdul Latif Al Shaikh calling for an investigation.

 

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