Saudi Arabia ends gender segregation in restaurants 

Women sit among men in a cafe in Khobar, Saudi Arabia opened this year. (Reuters/File photo)
Updated 09 December 2019

Saudi Arabia ends gender segregation in restaurants 

RIYADH/MAKKAH: The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has ended the requirement for restaurants to have separate sections for males and families.

Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, the department’s minister-designate, also approved other updates to rules and regulations in different sectors on Sunday.

Dr. Khaled Al-Jammaz, undersecretary-designate for technical affairs at the ministry, explained that the move was part of a number of amendments that included 103 regulations, requirements, manuals, models, standards and applications for activities of all kinds.

Makkah Mayor Mohammed Abdullah Al-Quwaihis told Arab News that the amendments aimed to make life easier for investors, citizens and entrepreneurs.

“They will be positive and will ease many conditions and restrictions, but they will not affect the core of the work in terms of public health and food, and this decision will increase the flow of investment and the number and variety of restaurants,” he said.

Nasser Al-Shalhoub, one of the owners of the soon-to-be opened Chaoua coffee shop, said that ending the requirement to have separate sections for males and families was an excellent decision — “especially since we are facing a problem with increasing costs because we are obligated to make two counters for the two sections, and now with this amendment the ministry has helped us to start working and reduce costs.”

A good designer can provide clever solutions to offer privacy for customers in different ways; it doesn’t have to be by blocking the place with big walls.

Abdulrahman Al-Harbi, An architect

“This will benefit us because we will take advantage of the space, and the area will look better,” he said.

Abdulrahman Al-Harbi, an architect, said: “A good designer can provide clever solutions to offer privacy for customers in different ways; it doesn’t have to be by blocking the place with big walls,” Al-Harbi said.

Ruba Al-Harbi, who manages a restaurant and owns the Snapchat lifestyle account @Tasteandtell, also agrees with the amendment. “It’s a waste of money to open two sections for males and families because this segregation will do nothing when both sides meet outside the restaurant’s doors.” She said that she had noticed the change a while ago, even before it was announced on the ministry’s website.

“I have entered several restaurants that had only one section and it was fine to sit and eat there.”

Al-Harbi said that were many issues when restaurants were divided. “Family sections are usually crowded. You often can’t find a place to sit while male sections are always empty because they don’t go to restaurants as much as females,” she said. 

Dareen Rajeh, a compliance analyst, said that many people in Saudi Arabia needed to get used to the existence of both sexes in the same place without becoming confused or uncomfortable. “We need to open our horizons and focus on more important issues.”


24-hour curfew in Riyadh, Jeddah and other cities

Updated 07 April 2020

24-hour curfew in Riyadh, Jeddah and other cities

  • 15 govt bodies work together to repatriate Saudis abroad
  • The 24-hour curfew will be applied for the first time in the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran and Al-Hofuf

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia placed its capital Riyadh and other major cities under a 24-hour curfew on Monday.

The new curfew applies to the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, Hofuf, and the provinces of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif and Alkhobar, a statement from the Interior Ministry said.
Entry to or exit from those areas will not be allowed, except for vital workers. Residents are allowed to leave their homes for medical or food needs inside their residential area and between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. only.
Fifteen government agencies are coordinating to facilitate the repatriation of Saudi citizens from abroad amid the global outbreak of the coronavirus. During the daily press briefing, Health Ministry spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, said that his ministry was cooperating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its repatriation operations.
In the Kingdom, the total number of confirmed cases is 2,605 with 203 new cases recorded on Sunday. He said that 551 patients have recovered and 2,016 are still being treated. The number of deaths in the Kingdom stands at 38.
Al-Aly said that updates about COVID-19 in the Kingdom with details of its geographical spread can be found at covid19.moh.gov.sa.
Tourism Ministry spokesman Anas Al-Sulai said: “The Ministry of Tourism has provided over 11,000 hotel rooms to accommodate Saudis returning from abroad, as they will be isolated to ensure their safety,” Al-Sulai said. The operation includes eight electronic services and the involvement of 15 government bodies that are working 24 hours to ensure the completion of the operation safely.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Naif Al-Otaibi, said that 22,000 environmental sanitation devices and 15,000 cadres are being used to sanitize and control areas.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, the General Directorate of Passports called on all citizens and residents to activate the feature to receive notifications for its services available through the “Absher” application for electronic services on smartphones.
By doing so, users will be able to receive information about the status of their official documents and the dates of their expiry.