Saudi issues restrictive rules on clothing for Grand Prix

Saudi issues restrictive new rules on clothing for Grand Prix event after mixed beach opens
2 min read
19 October, 2021
Saudi authorities have issued restrictive new rules on what women and men can wear at the kingdom's inaugural Grand Prix due to be held in Jeddah in December.
Saudi Arabia is due to host its first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix in December [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has released a dress code for visitors to its first-ever F1 Grand Prix motor racing event, sparking renewed controversy shortly after a beach opened up in Jeddah where women and men could mix freely.

The inaugural edition of the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is due to take place in Jeddah in December.

The organisers of the event have issued strict new rules regarding what spectators can wear.

According to the rules, women must wear full-length trousers or overcoats and dresses which cover their legs below the knee and ensure that their tops have a "decent" neckline.

Male visitors must also wear full-length trousers and tops which cover their forearms.

Women cannot wear excessive make-up, short skirts, backless dresses, tight clothing, bikinis, or tank-tops, while vests and shorts are prohibited for both genders.

The announcement of the restrictive measures comes after news emerged that a new beach had opened in Jeddah where men and women could mix freely.

Beachgoers could reportedly wear bikinis and shorts, after paying an admission fee of 300 riyals (US$80).

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, widely considered the kingdom's de facto ruler, has spearheaded social liberalisation in Saudi Arabia, allowing pop music concerts and other events to be held where men and women can mix freely.

The kingdom remains a deeply conservative Islamic society, however.

The Saudi Grand Prix race has previously been criticised by human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who have said that hosting the Formula 1 event in the kingdom distracts from its poor human rights record.

Perspectives

Along with the social liberalisation drive has been a crackdown on dissent which has seen reformist clerics and political activists imprisoned, tortured, and even killed.

In February this year, 45 human rights organisations signed a letter urging Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton to boycott the event, citing Saudi Arabia's continued airstrikes in Yemen, its detention of women's rights activists, and the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 among other abuses.