Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution has ordered the arrest of three social media influencers in the UAE after they posted videos of themselves taking part in the “In my feelings challenge”.
The warrant for their arrests were issued for endangering the lives of others and offending public morals by using social media “to promote practices that are incompatible with the UAE’s values and traditions,” a statement from the prosecution said.
The order came a day after the challenge was banned in Egypt and an Abu Dhabi traffic official warned the public against taking part in the dangerous fad.
The latest online dance craze — also known as the “Kiki challenge” — involves dancing to a song by Canadian rapper Drake in the street while walking alongside a moving car with the door open.
While some taking part are clearly passengers, many have been posting videos of themselves “ghost-riding” or leaving their cars in drive while they dance alongside it.
The challenge started when Instagram user theshiggyshow posted a video of himself last month dancing in the street to Drake's song In my feelings.
Since then, it has taken off online with thousands of social media users and celebrities recreating the dance and sharing their videos.
Social media users across the Middle East have also followed suit. Saudi Arabian influencer and YouTuber Reem AlSanea, who is based in Los Angeles, posted her version last week:
Hassan Ghoneim, a dentist based in Saudi Arabia, also shared his attempt at the challenge:
Brig Khalifa Al Khaili, director of Abu Dhabi traffic and patrols directorate, said anyone caught performing the stunt will be punished “mercilessly”.
“The traffic law does not have mercy upon anyone; what is being spread is against the law and we will catch whoever does such a thing,” he said.
“We don’t approve of this trend, as this practice has intruded into our societies it was never part of our traditions.”
“We disapprove of young people adopting such foreign trends,” he said.
Motorists caught taking part in the challenge could face up to Dh2,000 in fines, 23 black points on their licence, and car confiscation.
Brig Al Khaili said there had not yet been any arrests in connection to the challenge.
Under UAE law, copycats are at risk of being arrested for reckless driving, said Emirati lawyer Awatif Mohammed, from Al Rowad Advocates.
"Police officers are entitled to arrest anyone driving in a manner that may pose danger to others lives," she said. Those caught taking part in the challenge could also have their cars impounded but will face even greater penalties if they cause the injury or death of another person as a result of their reckless driving.
Dubai-based attorney Yousef Al Bahar said it was only a matter of time before someone was seriously injured by the fad.
“For the sake of jokes and laughter people could lead themselves and others to further consequences. Our goal now is to spread awareness before we start to face some serious problems.
“There was a video that was circulated on WhatsApp of a woman who got out of her car to do the challenge and was hit by a car,” he said. “It looks real and it seems like it was shot somewhere in Europe.”
The challenge has caused some accidents worldwide and social media users have shared their "fails". In the videos some are seen walking into sign posts or falling over after getting out of the car due to the speed.
It was banned in Egypt on Monday after a traffic official said it broke the country's traffic laws. Anyone caught taking part in the challenge will be fined 100-300 Egyptian pounds (Dh20-60), reported Egypt Today.
The challenge is the latest in a string of online trends that varied from well-meaning - such as the Ice Bucket Challenge that sought to raise money for ALS sufferers - to downright dangerous, such as the Tide Pod Challenge where people were challenged to eat liquid laundry detergent tablets.
Last year, some social media users began taking part in the "Salt and Ice challenge" which involved people pouring salt on their hand or arm then placing ice on top. The dangerous challenge caused severe burns to whoever took part.