DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi police said Wednesday they have released a 14-year-old boy who was filmed dancing to the “Macarena” at an intersection in the Red Sea city of Jiddah, according to local media reports.
The video, which went viral on social media in the kingdom in recent days, shows the boy wearing head phones, gray shorts, a striped T-shirt and neon green and yellow Crocs. He is swaying his hips and arms to the 90s hit song, smiling and giggling throughout the dance.
The state-linked Al-Riyadh news website quoted Col. Aati bin Attiyah al-Qurashi as saying the 14-year-old Arab national was brought to police along with his father, who was asked to sign a pledge vowing to protect his son and not to violate public morals. Al-Qurashi says the boy was then swiftly released from custody.
Police said the video appeared to be a year old. On Tuesday, state-linked news websites reported that the boy had been detained for disrupting traffic and improper public behavior after the video resurfaced.
Western music and dancing is taboo in Saudi Arabia, but such incidents in the past have not necessarily led to lengthy imprisonment or serious punishment.
Traditional dance is permitted. Saudi King Salman and U.S. President Donald Trump were filmed taking part in a traditional all-male Saudi sword dance in May when the president visited the kingdom to boost ties.
Saudi Arabia’s young heir to the throne, 31-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has pushed for greater openings for entertainment in the kingdom, including allowing a limited number of musical concerts after a more than 20-year ban.
He has also encouraged young Saudis to become more physically active as part of a wide-reaching reform agenda that includes raising life expectancy in the country.