Men, women must avoid ‘tight fitting clothing’
By AFP – Sep 28,2019 – JORDAN TIMES
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia on Saturday said it would impose fines for violations of “public decency”, including immodest clothing and public displays of affection, a day after the country opened up to foreign tourists.
The interior ministry said it had identified 19 such “offences” but did not specify the penalties, as the ultra-conservative country begins issuing tourist visas for the first time as part of a push to diversify its oil-reliant economy.
“The new regulations require men and women to dress modestly and to refrain from public displays of affection. Women are free to choose modest clothing,” a government statement quoted the ministry as saying.
“The regulations are meant to ensure that visitors and tourists in the kingdom are aware of the law relating to public behaviour so that they comply with it.”
Saudi Arabia on Friday said citizens from 49 countries are now eligible for online e-visas or visas on arrival, including the United States, Australia and several European nations.
Kickstarting tourism is one of the centrepieces of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform programme to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post-oil era.
Men and women must avoid “tight fitting clothing” or clothes with “profane language or images”, read an instruction on an English language website launched by the tourism authority.
“Women should cover shoulders and knees in public,” it added.
Prince Mohammed has sought to shake off his country’s ultra-conservative image — lifting a ban on cinemas and women drivers while allowing gender-mixed concerts and sporting extravaganzas.
The relaxed social norms have been welcomed by many Saudis, two-thirds of whom are under 30.
But new public decency guidelines, first approved by Cabinet in April, are widely perceived to be vague and have sparked public concern that they would be open to interpretation.
They have also stoked fears of a revival of morality policing