Saudi Arabia Ends a Strong 2019 By Eliminating Gender Segregation
In the most recent reform, Saudi Arabia revokes a decades-old rule requiring restaurants to provide separate entrances and areas for families and women, and for men dining alone. From now on, the men and women of The Kingdom will be allowed to sit in the same areas at restaurants and cafés.
This reform comes as part of Saudi’s Vision 2030 and complements previous steps towards gender equality such as lifting the driving ban on women and allowing them to travel without a guardian.
The Municipal and Rural Affairs Ministry said it was “removing a requirement by restaurants to have an entrance for single men and another for families”, and that restaurants no longer need to “specify private spaces”.
For years, men and women were not allowed to mix in public, with all major western chains providing two sections, one for families that include single women or women with their female relatives, and the other a singles section for men. Smaller restaurants, which did not have enough space for providing segregated areas, did not cater to women.
According to the ministry’s statement, this reform will not only be applied to restaurants but schools, shops, malls, and sports centers as well.
These reforms come in part to open Saudi up to the world and attract foreign investments, diversifying the economy and pushing the Kingdom away from its dependence on oil.