In a bid to attract tourists, Saudi Arabia has decided to allow foreign men and women to rent hotel rooms together in the Kingdom. The new law permits women, including Saudis to rent hotel rooms by themselves, in a break with previous regulations. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage confirmed a report on Friday by Arabic-language newspaper Okaz, adding: “All Saudi nationals are asked to show family ID or proof of relationship on checking into hotels. This is not required of foreign tourists. All women, including Saudis, can book and stay in hotels alone, providing ID on check-in.”
Saudi Arabia is trying diversify its economy away from oil exports.
The changes are part of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious economic and social reform agenda. His plans have received international praise, but his image has been tarnished by the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a crackdown on dissent, and a devastating war in Yemen.
The kingdom in August granted women new rights to travel abroad without approval from a male "guardian". The landmark reform eroded the longstanding guardianship system that renders women permanently as legal minors and allows their "guardians" -- husband, father and other male relatives -- to exercise arbitrary authority over them.
The decision, following years of campaigning by activists, comes after high-profile attempts by women to escape their guardians despite a string of reforms including a historic decree last year that overturned the world's only ban on female motorists. "A passport will be granted to any Saudi national who submits an application," a government ruling published in the official gazette Umm Al Qura.