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Saudi Arabia now allows single women to stay in hotels without male guardians Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Saudi Arabia now allows single women to stay in hotels without male guardians

Women can now enter hotel rooms alone in Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 October, 2019

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Saudi Arabia has reportedly scrapped laws barring women form booking hotel rooms without a guardian as the ultra-conservative kingdom prepares to welcome foreign tourists.

Saudi Arabia will allow women to check into hotel rooms without a male guardian, the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage has announced.

Local Saudi media reported the vice chairman of the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage, Hamad bin Mohammed al-Ismail, changed the criteria for women checking into a hotel.

Women are no longer obliged to have a male guardian when checking into their hotel rooms and are required to have changed, al-Ismail added.

Saudi women would have to present their family register when checking in as proof of identity, whereas non-Saudi women only need to present their passport as their evidence.

Last month, Riyadh announced it will be offering tourist visas for the first time, opening up the ultra-conservative kingdom to holidaymakers as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil.

Kickstarting tourism is one of the centrepieces of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform programme to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post-oil era.

The announcement came just two weeks after devastating attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure - blamed by Washington on Iran - which roiled global energy markets and raised fears of a wider regional conflict.

But the austere kingdom, which forbids alcohol and has a strict social code, is seen by many as a hard sell for tourists.

Read more: Visiting Saudi Arabia? 19 things that are illegal for tourists

Prince Mohammed is seeking to change that through a sweeping liberalisation drive that has brought new cinemas, mixed-gender concerts and sporting extravaganzas to Saudi Arabia.

International criticism of the kingdom's human rights record, including the gruesome murder last year of critic Jamal Khashoggi and a crackdown on female activists, could further put off foreign visitors, observers say.

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