Saudi Arabia is allowing foreign men and women to rent hotel rooms together without proving they are related. This new tourist visa option was launched to attract holidaymakers.
Saudi women are also permitted to rent hotel rooms by themselves, in a break with previous regulations.
The moves appear to pave the way for unaccompanied women to travel more easily and for unmarried foreign visitors to stay together in the Gulf state.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage confirmed on Friday.
“All Saudi nationals are asked to show family ID or proof of relationship on checking into hotels. This is not required of foreign tourists. All women, including Saudis, can book and stay in hotels alone, providing ID on check-in,” a local news publisher reported.
Saudi Arabia is trying to diversify its economy and move away from oil, hence tourism is one of the key focus areas for the Kingdom. Visitors now need not wear all-covering black robes but can dress more moderately.
The Kingdom for decades did not allow mix up of unrelated men and women, including foreigners.
Authorities hope for welcoming 100 million annual visits by 2030, therefore Saudis could push its conservative practices further in order to achieve this target.
Last year, Saudi Arabia lifted ban on women drivers and in August this year women were granted rights to travel abroad alone without any guardian system.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has ambitious plans for his country, but his image was tarnished after his name popped up after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Source : Various