Why is this Saudi colloquialist Kiki dance most controversial

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Saudi colloquialist Manei bin Shalhat stirred controversy after he got out of his car to perform the “Kiki” dance following the challenge thrown by global rap star Drake for the song In My Feelings.

Bin Shalhat previously worked for Saudi oil company Aramco and was married to an American after he studied in the United States.

A hashtag mentioning the poet was second in the list of the most discussed topics in Saudi Arabia on Twitter, with 450 tweets coming out per hour.

Some criticized him for publishing “trivialities” while others considered his dance a “personal freedom of expression” and his revealed his cheerful spirit.

Others said that the dance was expression of a new spirit for Saudi society.

Divided opinion

Recently, Arab and international celebrities have been filming frequent “Kiki” videos in their own various ways, while Arab countries, including Egypt, the UAE and Kuwait, have warned against such dances. Some governments have even declared them “illegal.”

Bin Shalhat is one of the most prominent poets in the Saudi dialect. His poetry is widely appreciated among the tribes as they reflect their deep-rooted identity and the history of the region.

The vernacular poetry has a large audience in Saudi Arabia and across the Arab world because it is the dialect that indulges in the society’s values and addresses its concerns, hopes and aspirations.

Tens of thousands of people often attend the ceremonies organized for Bin Shalhat to recite new pieces of his poetry in colloquial Arabic.

On occasions, his poetry sessions are held in sports stadiums to accommodate the large number of his fans.

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