Saudi Arabia To Ban Child Marriage
Bachelor parties are becoming increasingly popular in Saudi, despite strict codes of behaviour according to IslamReuters

While stag and hen parties are common in the UK, many young men and women have adopted the phenomenon in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Saudi Gazette, bachelor parties are becoming increasingly popular in the country, despite strict Islamic codes of behaviour on alcohol, social behaviour and dress.

Life event parties in general - including divorce and graduation parties - have been condemned by some as being against tradition.

Opponents of the growing trend have said the parties simply imitate Western traditions, while others believe there is no harm in hosting a party to honour someone.

Speaking to the newspaper, Fouad Al-Zahrani said he had attended and helped organise various parties by collecting money from the groom's friends. He said the parties were harmless and disagreed that they were "in violation of local traditions".

Others have been less accepting of the phenomenon, issuing caution against the parties, which may introduce members of the younger generation to "undesirable behaviour". Critics has also said the cost of a bachelor party can burden the family of a couple.

Suha Mohammad, soon to be married, said that parties held at reasonable costs are acceptable.

She said: "Parties that may cost up to SR60,000 (around £8,500) are simply against our religious teachings and are considered a waste of money."

Mohammad added that couples should not financially burden families and friends by hosting extravagant celebrations prior to their weddings.

In the Saudi Gazette, Khalid Al-Sahlawi said the parties are mainly held in the summer, at private resorts. He pointed out that the parties have certain protocols, including decors, music and food.

He said: "I recently attended a party that cost SR25,000 - which is considered moderate. Some parties may cost up to SR80,000."

While it is common to see groups of men and women trawling bars and clubs abroad before they get married, the trend is catching on in areas of the Middle East. However, the prohibition of alcohol makes the experience rather different.

Alcoholic drinks are banned in Islam and there are strict rules set out in the Quran and Hadith - the sayings of Prophet Mohammed - which are strictly applied.

The punishment for drinking alcohol is a public lashing. However, expatriates living in special quarters in the country may drink alcohol on occasion. The unwritten rule is that the drinking takes place behind closed doors. Strict Islamic codes of behaviour and dress are also strictly enforced.