Saudi Arabia is dropping gender rules for restaurant entrances

The kingdom is ending the requirement that restaurants have two separate entrances

Saudi Arabia is ending the requirement that restaurants have two separate entrances: one for families and women and another for unaccompanied men.

The change, part of the kingdom’s relaxation of social rules, was announced in a statement from the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.

The statement did not say whether seating inside the restaurants would be gender-mixed. Some restaurants already allow unaccompanied men to sit in the same area as women and families.

Still the move was meant to mark another sign that Saudi Arabia is loosening up socially as the Middle East’s biggest economy tries to wean itself from oil revenue.

For years, the religious police enforced strict gender separation in public places, though its power was curbed in 2016. The next year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that a shift toward moderate Islam was key to his plan to modernize the country.

In the last year or so, there have been more gender-mixed events, including concerts, and different kinds of events like comedy shows and professional wrestling.