Under the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law, Valentine's Day is forbidden because it celebrates the life of a Christian saint and "encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women," according to Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a Saudi religious scholar. All the accoutrements of Valentine's Day merely represent the culture "of a people who are involved in the humiliation and killing of our fellow brothers and sisters," Mariam Anwer, a Saudi schoolteacher, told the Saudi Gazette.
Every year, Saudi Arabia's infamous morality police force, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, raids shops a few days before Feb. 14, instructing owners to remove red roses, red wrapping paper, teddy bears, and gift boxes. On the eve of the holiday, they raid stores and seize symbols of love.
Because of the ban on red roses, a black market has flowered ahead of Valentine's Day. Roses that normally go for five Saudi riyal (about $1.30) fetch up to 30 riyal ($8) each on Feb. 14. Florists reportedly deliver bouquets in the middle of the night or early morning, to avoid suspicion.
Ahmed Al-Omran, a well-known Saudi blogger, told CNN back in February 2008 that the government's ban would give the international media another reason to make fun of the Saudis "but I think that we got used to that by now."