Saudi Arabia to woo tourists with relaxed dress codes for females

Published:  27 Sep at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Australia
In an attempt to attract more tourists and expat visitors, Saudi Arabia is now relaxing its strict female dress code policy.

As part of a push to make the Kingdom a major tourist destination, the Saudi government is preparing to launch a new visa regime aimed at 49 world countries as well as relaxing its former strict female dress codes. Up until now, the issuance of visas has mostly been restricted to expatriate workers, businessmen, members of the Moslem clergy and pilgrims. The aim of the changes is to encourage foreign investment in the state’s tourism industry and raise tourist revenue to 10 per cent of GDP by 2030.

Foreign female visitors to the Kingdom will not be compelled to wear the body-covering abaya compulsory for all Saudi women, although they must dress modestly at all times. Also being removed are the restrictions on unaccompanied females visiting the country. Male tourists and expats employed in the Kingdom may be disappointed the restrictions on alcohol will still stand, as will the rule forbidding non-Moslem expats from visiting the ‘holy cities’ of Medina and Mecca.

More information on the scheme including a list of eligible countries is expected late Friday, with the pro-tourism moves crucial to the controversial Crown Prince’s vision for the non oil-reliant future of the country. At present, Saudi’s international human rights image remains tarnished by its involvement in the death of prominent journalist Jamail Kashoggi as well as its recent crackdown on activists campaigning for women’s rights.
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