RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia is permitting international women and men to hire resort rooms collectively with out proving they’re associated, after the conservative Muslim kingdom launched a brand new vacationer visa regime to draw holidaymakers.
FILE PHOTO: A Saudi man walks previous renovated buildings on the historic metropolis of Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Website, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photograph
Girls, together with Saudis, are additionally permitted to hire resort rooms by themselves, in a break with earlier rules.
The strikes seem to pave the best way for unaccompanied ladies to journey extra simply and for single international guests to remain collectively within the Gulf state, the place intercourse exterior of marriage is banned.
The Saudi Fee for Tourism and Nationwide Heritage confirmed a report on Friday by Arabic-language newspaper Okaz, including: “All Saudi nationals are requested to indicate household ID or proof of relationship on checking into accommodations. This isn’t required of international vacationers. All ladies, together with Saudis, can ebook and keep in accommodations alone, offering ID on check-in.”
Saudi Arabia threw open its doorways final week to international vacationers from 49 nations because it tries to develop that sector and diversify its economic system away from oil exports. As a part of the transfer, it decreed that guests needn’t put on all-covering black robes however ought to costume modestly. Alcohol stays banned.
Saudi Arabia has been comparatively closed off for many years and till not too long ago unrelated women and men, together with foreigners, could possibly be severely punished for mixing in public. Strict social codes have been relaxed in recent times and beforehand banned leisure has flourished.
However an inflow of vacationers — the authorities are aiming for 100 million annual visits by 2030 — might push boundaries additional and dangers conservative backlash.
The dominion ended a closely criticized ban on ladies driving final yr and in August granted ladies new rights to journey overseas, chipping away at a guardianship system that assigns every girl a male family member to approve essential choices all through their lives.
The modifications are a part of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s bold financial and social reform agenda. His plans have acquired worldwide reward, however his picture has been tarnished by the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a crackdown on dissent, and a devastating struggle in Yemen.
Till now, foreigners touring to Saudi Arabia have been largely restricted to resident employees and their dependents, enterprise vacationers, and Muslim pilgrims who’re given particular visas to go to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Reporting by Stephen Kalin; Enhancing by Daniel Wallis