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.”


Saudi ministry announces quarantine rules for foreign pilgrims

Updated 28 October 2020

Saudi ministry announces quarantine rules for foreign pilgrims

  • The official delivered these details at a virtual workshop on Monday

MAKKAH: People arriving in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah are not supposed to wear Ihram on their arrival, as they have to undergo a three-day quarantine in their hotels, said Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

He said at the end of their hotel stay, their respective Umrah companies will transport them to the nearest “Miqat” to don Ihram and continue with their rituals.

In the third phase of Umrah resumption, which begins on Nov.1, pilgrims from around the world will be allowed to enter the Kingdom. Some 20,000 pilgrims — residents and visitors — can perform rituals daily amid strict social distancing measures.

Al-Maddah said the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Weqaya) is monitoring the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic situation in every country to help inform the relevant authorities before Umrah arrivals.

The official delivered these details at a virtual workshop on Monday.

He said the Eatmarna app has been downloaded around 3 million times and more than 1.4 million people have applied for permits, with over 1 million being issued for Umrah and prayers in the Grand Mosque.

Al-Maddah said in case of a hike in infections, authorities may limit the number of pilgrims at any point.

He said full medical insurance is mandatory to ensure adequate health care for pilgrims in case of COVID-19 infection or any other health issues.

Al-Maddah said Weqaya will determine which countries can send pilgrims depending on the number of infections. He reassured that Umrah companies will be provided with regular updates.