Illegal moves: Teen arrested in Saudi Arabia for dancing the Macarena

As he is a minor it is uncertain whether the public prosecutor will actually charge him

A 14-year-old boy has been arrested after a video of him dancing the Macarena on a busy street in Jeddah was posted online and went viral. His insouciant dance moves apparently didn’t please Saudi authorities, who described them as “improper public behaviour.”

In the 45-second video, posted on Saturday Aug. 19, the boy casually walks crosses a road wearing headphones, before stopping in the middle and turning to face a row of cars who have stopped at the red light. He gives one last grin at the camera, and then calmly starts to dance the Macarena, a popular Spanish hit from the 1990s with internationally recognisable dance moves. The Macarena dance moves soon transform into his own brand of relaxed freestyle. The camera pans in on his gyrating hips before the video ends.

Authorities from the region of Mecca, where Jeddah is, announced on Twitter on Tuesday, August 22 that the boy had been arrested and would be going to court. The boy has not been identified, and the date of his dance antics is also unknown. As he is a minor, it is uncertain whether the public prosecutor will actually charge him.


The video has been widely shared on Twitter and Facebook, with a tweet by journalist Ahmed Al Omran gaining over 2,000 retweets. The video divided social media in the country.

Criminals on the dance floor

This is not the first time some well-timed choreography has roused the ire of Saudi authorities. Only a few weeks ago, Saudi singer Abdallah Al Shahani was arrested after “dabbing” during a music festival on August 5 in the city of Taif in the country’s southwest.

The “dab” is a gesture made popular by celebrities and sporting stars, and involves putting one’s face into the crook of the elbow, while pointing the other arm towards the sky. The video of Al Shahani’s dab went viral on Saudi social media and led to his arrest.

Dabbing is illegal in Saudi Arabia, on the grounds that it encourages drug use and is a veiled reference to marijuana.

This is why you can’t dab in Saudi Arabia