Saudi Arabia has announced it will host a card-playing national competition for the first time, in a move that has officially legalised the activity that was previously banned under religious pretexts.
Turki al-Sheikh, the kingdom’s General Sports Authority’s chairman, announced the competition on Thursday.
According to the statement, the winners of the first four places would receive a combined prize of more than one million Saudi riyals ($270,000).
People in the country took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the upcoming tournament, which will take place between April 4 and 8, 2018, under the supervision of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS).
While some welcomed the move, others criticised it, saying it was “absurd” and considered it a form of gambling.
Translation: “This is what we have come to, legalising a game that is unlawful in religion even without prize, yet we have legalised it while giving away prizes. God forgive us.”
الى هذا الحد وصلت بنا الحال
لعبه محرمه شرعا بدون جوائز
فكيف اذا كانت بجوايز
اللهم لاتؤاخذنا بما فعل السفهاء منا
والله والله ان العقوبه لقريبه
اللهم لطفك يارب
— الغررررريب (@b3hyi) February 16, 2018
Some mocked the decision altogether and used humour to highlight the religious contradictions.
Translation: “Even gambling is now halal…This is a big deal…awaiting the launch of the first casino.”
حتى القمار صار حلال .. الموضوع كبير أوي .. بانتظار تدشين أول كازينو 😂 #بطوله_المملكه_للبلوت
— ايمان الحمود (@imankais1) February 15, 2018
Translation: “Soon [it’ll be] welcome to Las Vegas!!”
قريبا welcome to Las Vegas !!
— abdarazq alsheikh 🇸🇴🇸🇦 (@0Abdrazaq) February 15, 2018
Others were eager to compete.
Translation: “We want the competition’s rule manual.”
Translation: “I’m joining and from now, consider the first place taken.”
تراي مشارك مشارك بحول الله و من الان اعتبروا المركز الاول محجوز 💪💪💪
— عبدالعزيز المريسل (@ALMRISEUL) February 15, 2018
Saudi Arabia appears to be relaxing some norms as part of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
He also lifted a 35-year-old cinema ban.