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Christmas Tiptoes Into Saudi Arabia With Trees and Mariah Carey

There’s a little more festive cheer in Riyadh nowadays, but you still have to know where to look.

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The Rising Cost of Christmas Dinner

It’s that time of year again, and hearing the perennial “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in stores and restaurants will hardly make anyone stop in their tracks. Except, that is, if you’re in Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom prohibits the public practice of any religion other than Islam and allows no churches or places of worship except for mosques. Previously, Christmas trees ordered from abroad were seized by customs, as were other religious accoutrement such as Buddha statues. But this year, there’s a little more festive cheer in a society whose leadership now allows music, gender mixing and considers fun as a nascent industry.