Saudi Arabia ends gender segregation in restaurants

Dec. 9 (UPI) — Women in Saudi Arabia will no longer be required to enter restaurants through separate entrances from men, the government said as it takes another step to relax some of its strict social rules.

The Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs announced the decision to end the practice Sunday on Twitter.

Previously, women and families were required to enter restaurants through their own designated doorways. Though the enforcement of this rule has relaxed recently, the new regulation leaves the decision over separate entrances to store owners.

The amendment was announced along with a slew of others concerning private schools, hospitals, cinemas and sports centers in pursuit of fostering “a stimulating and attractive business environment” for investors, Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi said via Twitter.

In the past few years, Saudi Arabia has implemented a number of changes to open up its traditionally repressive social rules in line with Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz’s Vision 2030 plan that aims to loosen its economic dependence on oil through, among other initiatives, increasing the presence of women in the workplace.

The announcement follows the country in August permitting women above 21 years of age to obtain a passport, effectively allowing them to travel on their own. Last June, women were permitted to drive for the first time.

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