The Saudi government has announced that the country will no longer have a segregation of genders at restaurants.
In Saudi Arabia, it was always been compulsory for restaurants to have one entrance for families and women and a separate entrance for men.
Throughout the years, this requirement was inconspicuously eased with various restaurants and cafes no longer enforcing the segregation.
Recently, there has been a major crackdown on dissent in the country following a series of sweeping social reforms. In a historic move, earlier this year a royal decree allowed Saudi women to travel abroad without the presence of a male companion. In 2018, the Gulf Kingdom ended a decades long ban on female drivers.
However, many activists are still complaining that many discriminatory laws against women still exist in the country and various prominent women’s rights advocates have been arrested despite the new reforms from the government.
On Sunday, the Saudi ministry of municipalities announced that restaurants would not longer require segregated entrances for different genders. It added that the decisions to have different entrances would be at the disposal of the businesses.
Until now, inside restaurants, families and women were usually cut off and separated from men on their own by screens.
Since the appointment of Muhammad Bin Salman as crown prince in 2017, he has made moves to attempt to loosen Saudi Arabia’s strictly conservative society.
His reforms have won praise in the international community but have been accompanied by a wave of repression.
In 2018, prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. This resulted in intense outrage from the international community, however, despite this backlash key leaders such as US President Donald Trump have continued to remain by Saudi Arabia’s side.
Saudi officials have said Khashoggi, a high-profile critic of the government in Riyadh, was killed in a “rogue operation” by a team of agents. But many critics believe otherwise and a UN expert concluded that the death was an “extrajudicial execution”.
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