Unmarried Overseas couples can now rent hotel rooms: Saudi Arabia
Unmarried foreign couples will then be permitted to rent hotel rooms together in Saudi Arabia as part of a new visa regime declared by the religiously conservative kingdom.
Women will also be permitted to remain in hotel rooms alone.
Couples formerly had to prove that they were married before getting a hotel room.
The government move comes amid efforts by Saudi Arabia to grow its tourism sector.
What are the new changes?
Previously, couples needed to provide documents proving union, but these rules are relaxed for foreigners.
“All Saudi nationals are requested to demonstrate family ID or proof of connection on checking into hotels,” the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage said in a statement.
“This isn’t required for foreign tourists. All women, including Saudis, can reserve and stay in hotels alone, providing ID on check-in”
The new visa regulations state that female tourist isn’t required to completely cover up but are still expected to dress modestly.
Alcohol remains banned.
What is behind the changes?
Long regarded as one of the most popular places in the world, Saudi Arabia is trying to soften its image in the eyes of foreign investors and tourists.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has just made some significant changes in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Saudi Arabia allows women to travel independently
These include ending a ban on female drivers and allowing women to travel abroad without a male guardian’s permission.
But these changes are overshadowed by highly controversial issues such as the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Simon Calder, the senior travel editor at The Independent, said that the relaxing of visa regulations will probably increase the number of people traveling into the kingdom.
“Vastly simplifying the bureaucracy of getting a visa should cause an immediate spike in visitor numbers – originally, I imagine, from people with an interest in the Arab world and its legacy,” he told to the BBC News.