Foreign men and women always had to prove they were related if they wanted to shack up together in hotel in Saudi Arabia. And single Saudi women, who were also prohibited from renting hotel rooms in the kingdom by themselves.
It has all changed now.
Breaking with its behind-the-times relationship laws, Saudi Arabia has decided to let foreign males and females share hotel rooms, as part of a campaign to make the kingdom more appealing to holidaymakers.
Saudi nationals will still be required to show family ID or proof of relationship when checking into hotels, but such documentation will not be required for foreign tourists, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage confirmed. The agency added that all women, including Saudis, can book and stay in hotels alone.
The kingdom announced last week that it would begin accepting tourists from 49 countries as part of an initiative to diversify its energy-focused economy. Female visitors will not be required to cover themselves head-to-toe, but have been instructed to dress modestly. Alcohol is still strictly prohibited.
Riyadh hopes the relaxed rules will attract up to 100 million tourists annually by 2030. The deeply conservative country has been slowly parting ways with its more extreme laws. Last year, it ended its uniquely backward ban on women driving.