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Saudi Arabia ends gender-segregated entrances for restaurants

Reuters|
​Sweeping reforms in Saudi Arabia
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​Sweeping reforms in Saudi Arabia

Restaurants in Saudi Arabia will no longer need to maintain entrances segregated by sex, further eroding some of the world's strictest social rules as sweeping reforms take hold.

Previously, Saudi Arabia required all restaurants to have one entrance for families and women, and another for men on their own. The ministry of municipalities and rural affairs announced this would no longer be mandatory.

In pic: A mean leaves the singles entrance at a restaurant in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

AP
​New rules
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​New rules

Segregation has quietly eased over the past year or so, as eateries, cafes, conference centres and concert halls stopped strictly enforcing it.

A spokesman for the ministry contacted by Reuters did not specify whether segregated seating areas inside restaurants would also be eliminated. The new rules are not compulsory, meaning restaurants could still maintain separate entrances if owners choose to do so.

In pic: People walk in front of a restaurant with signs at top left reads, 'single section,' and at top right reads, 'family section', in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

AP
​Announcement of changes
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​Announcement of changes

There was no announcement of changes to other public establishments, such as schools and hospitals, which appear likely to remain segregated for now.

Saudi Arabia, one of the world's most gender-segregated nations, has also been chipping away at a guardianship system which requires all women have a male relative's approval for important decisions, though some key restrictions remain.

In pic: Men and women watch the Saudi Arabia vs. Uruguay World Cup football match live on a television at a restaurant's outdoor seating in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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​Possible backlash
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​Possible backlash

It has also raised concerns about a possible backlash by conservatives, though there has so far been little concrete pushback.

In pic: A woman leaves a ladies only service area at a restaurant in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

AP
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