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09th Dec 2019

Saudi Arabia ends gender segregation in restaurants

Jade Hayden

Big news for the oil-rich state.

Saudi Arabia has ended gender segregation in restaurants.

Under Saudi law, it was once mandatory for women to use separate entrances to men when dining out.

The law also stated that women had to sit behind partitions to avoid them being seen by single men. If a restaurant was not big enough to include a partition, a woman was technically forbidden from entering.

The country’s Municipal and Rural Affairs Ministry has since ended gender segregation in restaurants in a bid to attract larger investors and greater business opportunities to the state.

Some hotels had already permitted unrelated men and women to dine together, however the bulk of popular cafés and restaurants (including McDonald’s and Starbucks) had abided by the strict rules.

This comes after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began pushing for social reform across the state, which traditionally had discouraged single men and women from mixing together in any public space.

In 2018, Saudi Arabian women were given the right to drive while earlier this year they were given the right to travel and apply for a passport without the permission of their often male guardian.

Men and women still remain segregated at most Saudi universities, government run institutions, and weddings.