Saudi Arabia pulls promo video within hours due to fierce backlash

The video was released despite moves to open Saudi Arabia up to Western visitors.
The video was released despite moves to open Saudi Arabia up to Western visitors. Photo credit: Saudi Tourism

A video aimed at promoting Saudi Arabia as a destination for Western visitors and investors has been pulled just hours after its release due to fierce online backlash.

The video, published by Saudi Arabia's state security agency, described feminism, homosexuality and atheism as "extremist ideas".

It comes after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often referred to as MBS, had pushed for a more moderate form of Islam and promoted nationalist sentiment.

MBS has loosened social restrictions, launched a tourist visa and chipped away at a guardianship system that assigns each woman a male relative to approve important decisions throughout their lives.

The animated clip posted on Twitter by a verified account of the State Security Presidency said "all forms of extremism and perversion are unacceptable".

It listed those concepts alongside takfir - the Islamist militant practice of labeling followers of other schools of Islam unbelievers.

"Don't forget that excess of anything at the expense of the homeland is considered extremism," said the promo's voiceover.

Under Saudi law, supporting groups classified as extremist organisations can lead to imprisonment.

Homosexuality and atheism have long been illegal and punishable by death in the absolute monarchy, where public protests and political parties are banned and the media is tightly controlled.