Saudi Arabia is a country where religion and traditions are important and citizens are very proud of their culture. That’s why it’s often considered a conservative society, with strict moral rules.
However, the Kingdom has been increasingly opening itself to foreign tourism and investment. For example and for the first time in history, it’s now possible to apply for a Saudi online visa for tourism purposes in minutes.
In order to encourage international tourism, Saudi Arabia has also decided to allow foreign men and women to share a hotel room. Until now, female and male guests had to prove that they were related in order to rent a room.
The Saudi Decency Hotel Rooms Rule
As mentioned before, Saudi Arabia is known for being a conservative country. Foreigners visiting the Kingdom are welcomed by the well-known Middle Eastern warm hospitality but are also expected to follow the local rules and laws.
For example, alcohol is banned. Being seen intoxicated, selling or purchasing alcohol in public in Saudi Arabia is not advisable. At the same time, international travelers are expected to observe a conservative dress code while in Saudi Arabia. Although they are not expected to wear religious clothing and women aren’t required to cover their hair at all times, there are spaces and situations where this is necessary.
The rule on hotel bookings followed the same line. Unless they proved to be related, men and women could not rent shared accommodation and women could not check into a hotel alone. Tourism, in general, was not encouraged and mostly limited to relatives and Muslim pilgrims traveling to Medina and Mecca.
Can Unmarried Couples Share a Hotel Room in Saudi Arabia Now?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the Saudi government have recently set in motion a series of social and economic reforms that are opening the Kingdom to the rest of the world with the new eVisa. The permission to Saudi women to drive, the introduction of smart technology to facilitate the pilgrimage to Mecca are all measures that are intended to boost international relations and tourism and modernize the country.
In the same manner, foreign men and women can now share a hotel room without having to provide evidence that they are related. Moreover, women can now rent accommodation on their own without a man’s approval.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage spoke to Reuters and said: “All Saudi nationals are asked to show family ID or proof of relationship on checking into hotels. This is not required of foreign tourists. All women, including Saudis, can book and stay in hotels alone, providing ID on check-in.
What is Still Not Allowed in Saudi Arabia?
The lifting of the Saudi hotel room decency rule doesn’t mean that the Kingdom doesn’t remain a proudly religious and conservative society. Foreigners are still required to follow Saudi laws and respect the local customs as much as possible.
Alcohol, drugs, pork products, and pornography are still prohibited. This means that they can’t be brought into the country or consumed within the national territory. Women must also wear an abaya in mosques and some other public spaces.
Moreover, it’s advisable to be discreet with your personal relationships: Saudis frown upon public display of affection, especially in the case of LGBTQ+ couples.
Foreigners should also be culturally aware when it comes to Islam and the Royal family. The month of Ramadan, for example, is a time when eating, drinking, smoking, and other activities are completely forbidden for all Muslims. Foreigners of other faiths should know that although they are not expected to fast for the whole day, they are required to eat in private.
Saudi laws also forbid criticizing the Royal family in public. Foreigners are usually not punished as severely as Saudi citizens, but should still avoid breaking the law.