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Thu 14 Feb 2008 04:17 PM

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Valentine's Day only for Western world - survey

Majority of Arabs believe Valentine's Day meant only for Western world, says survey.

As the Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian governments threaten Valentine’s Day bans, a survey has revealed 58% of Arabs believe the celebration is meant only for the Western world.

The second annual Maktoob Research Valentine's Day was conducted from January 31 to February 5 among 3195 Arabs who are married or involved in a serious relationship. The survey included residents of 11 GCC, Levant and North Africa countries.

The study found that 46% of participants felt that celebrating the day went against their religious beliefs, while only 42% disagreed when asked whether the occasion is meant only for the Western world.

Tamara Deprez, research director at Maktoob, said while the survey revealed the majority of Arab resident enjoyed receiving traditional gifts, many respondents did not support the celebration.

“We’ve received feedback from a large number of respondents who say that they will not be celebrating the occasion as they believe that it goes against their religious beliefs.”

Despite the majority of participants stating the celebration was meant only for Westerners, 47% believed that the day should be an occasion for the religious and non-religious alike, the survey found.

The study also revealed 72% of Arabs consider themselves to be romantic, an increase of 10% from the 2006 study.

Respondents from the GCC were willing to spend the most on Valentine's Day presents, followed by the Levant and North Africa.

At nearly 30%, the majority were willing to only spend $50 or below on gifts, 16.1% were prepared to spend $51 to $100; 6.4% would spend $101 to $150 and 10.7% of respondents were willing to spend more than $151 on romantic presents.

At 15%, flowers were ranked as the most exciting and romantic gift, followed by gifts (13%), romantic phone calls (11%), a dinner date (10%) and Valentine’s cards (9%)

Going to a hotel or on a trip, a dinner date and jewellery featured more prominently in GCC wish lists as compared to other regions, while poetry recitation ranked higher in Levant wish lists.

The Kuwaiti government warned on Wednesday that Valentine's Day celebrations that contradict Islamic teachings and values will be banned, while Saudi’s religious police are currently enforcing a red rose ban in the capital Riyadh.

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