JAFFA, Israel – Women are now allowed to stay in hotels without a male companion, the Saudi Tourist Board has decided in a landmark move.
Saudi women will no longer be required to check in with a “legitimate” male relative – that is, their husband, father, or brother. The board insisted that the decision will be implemented in keeping with Sharia law.
Underpinning the decision was an expert opinion that it would empower Saudi women and enhance the kingdom’s economy, the Saudi news website SABQ reported.
Abdel Rahman Elkaurash, a member of the National Council for Family Welfare, told the news agency that women should be treated as “strategic partners,” rather than an entity whose rights should be controlled or limited.
“Following a recent decision to allow women to have passports, which enables them to travel alone, there’s no reason to ban them from staying alone at hotels,” he said, adding that the decision was nonetheless met with significant opposition.
The Saudi sociologist Ayman Karim said that women should no longer be treated as ticking bombs.
“The protection given to women in the Quran was distorted by patriarchy,” he said. “The result is mounting abuse and discrimination against women.”
Meanwhile, the site reported that a Saudi man was arrested after he was caught massaging three women in their home in the absence of a “legitimate” male companion.
The man is expected to be prosecuted in the coming days.