Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested an Egyptian man for appearing in what they have described as an “offensive” video after he was filmed being fed breakfast by a female colleague.
In the 30-second video that sparked outrage in the Gulf kingdom, the pair were seen laughing and joking at a hotel desk in the city of Jeddah before the woman appeared to feed the man some bread.
After the video went viral on Sunday, local media reported that an Egyptian national was arrested and charged with failing to adhere to government regulations that stipulate a gender-segregated workplace.
“The labour ministry arrested an expatriate in Jeddah after he appeared in an offensive video,” the ministry said.
The US government-funded Al Hurra TV network later reported that the man could face charges of sexual harassment in the workplace and up to five years in prison.
It was unclear whether the woman in the video had been arrested.
Saudi Arabia enforces a strict segregation between the sexes in public areas, places of work and restaurants.
Men and women who are not married or close relations must sit separately from each other.
After the video went viral and sparked a torrent of criticism from conservatives, thousands of social media users took to Twitter to defend the Egyptian man, with the Arabic hashtag Egyptian having breakfast with a Saudi woman becoming a trending topic in the kingdom.
Saudi Twitter user Yahya wrote:
Translation: Why are you judging them harshly, they’re just co-workers.
Earlier this year he ended a decades-long ban on women driving and allowed women to attend concerts and football matches.