Saudis Lift Strict Restaurant Rule About Women

Restaurants no longer required to have separate entrances
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2019 12:11 AM CST
Saudi Arabia Loosens Gender Segregation Rule
A man leaves the singles entrance at a restaurant in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Saudi Arabia has moved a little further into the 21st century—or, at least, the 20th—with the easing of another ultra-strict regulation. Officials have announced that restaurants will no longer be required to have a separate entrance for women and families, the BBC reports. Until now, dining establishments were required to have "family" entrances and sections, for family groups or unaccompanied women, and "singles" entrances for single men or groups of men. The men were usually separated from the women and families by screens. In smaller restaurants without space for a separate entrance, segregation of the sexes was maintained by not allowing women in.

Some restaurants—especially those in upscale hotels in larger cities—had already started ignoring the requirement for segregation, the AP reports. The new regulations do not require restaurants to end segregation, meaning establishments in more conservative areas of the kingdom are likely to continue the practice of having separate entrances and sections. The move comes amid a push for reform by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The ban on women driving was lifted last year. Earlier this year, women were granted the right to apply for passports and travel independently. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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