Saudi Arabia is now allowing women, including Saudis, to rent hotel rooms by themselves in a break with tradition and previous strict regulations, Reuters reported on Saturday.
In an effort to attract tourists, the Muslim kingdom has relaxed new tourist norms, allowing foreign men and women to rent hotel rooms together without proving they are related. Premarital sex is banned in the Gulf state.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage on Friday confirmed a report by Arabic newspaper Okaz, which first reported on the new regulations. “All Saudi nationals are asked to show family ID or proof of relationship on checking into hotels,” it added. “This is not required of foreign tourists. All women, including Saudis, can book and stay in hotels alone, providing ID on check-in.”
Last week, the conservative Muslim country opened up to foreign tourists from 49 countries in an attempt to expand the tourism sector and diversify its oil export-dependent economy. Visitors will need to dress modestly, and alcohol remains banned. The government is aiming for 100 million annual visits by 2030. But political commentators fear backlash from orthodox elements in the Saudi government and society as the country keeps on enacting reforms.
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