Cleric in oil-rich Saudi Arabia bans birthdays, arguing they 'lead to financial ruin'
A cleric in oil-rich Saudi Arabia's highest religious body has decreed that celebrating birthdays is forbidden because it will make you go broke.
Abdullah al-Mutlaq, who is an advisor to the royal court, issued the fatwa on his programme on state television earlier this week, according to local media.
When asked by a caller if it was permissible to observe birthdays of children and wives, Mutlaq said: "It is not permissible".
"We do not want to open up that door to ourselves because people do not have that kind of money to spend," the cleric explained.
"We want to save up for our households and they now want to destroy themselves with these parties… which are unbeneficial things that Islam does not promote," he added.
The reactions on social media to the religious edict have been mixed with many Twitter users praising the cleric for his message of frugality.
On the other hand, some users pointed out that Saudis should be able to afford birthday celebrations as their country is the world's second-leading producer of crude oil.
Despite being one the wealthiest countries in the world, Saudi Arabia suffers from widespread poverty and unemployment.
At least one-quarter of young Saudi men are unemployed, and almost 90 percent of women are essentially out of the labour market altogether.
Millions of Saudis live in poverty, some estimates have put the number as high as a quarter of the native Saudi population of 20 million.
The subject is highly taboo in the absolute monarchy, which is famous for its endless number of billionaire princes.
In 2011, three young Saudi video bloggers were arrested and jailed for two weeks after they produced an online video about poverty in Saudi Arabia.