Riyadh: Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud Bin Naif on Saturday approved the implementation of new regulations related to public decency, which identify 19 offenses is punishable by fines.
violations of “public decency”, including immodest clothing and public displays of affection will now attract penalties. The move came a day after the austere kingdom opened up to foreign tourists.
The regulations will help ensure that visitors and tourists in Saudi Arabia are aware of laws that concern public behavior and are in compliance with Saudi law.
The new regulations require men and women to dress modestly and to refrain from public displays of affection. Women are free to choose a modest choice of clothing.
But tourism chief Ahmed al-Khateeb said foreign women were not obligated to wear the body-shrouding abaya robe that is still mandatory public wear for Saudi women.
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.
As for implementation, Saudi Police officers are the sole authority responsible for monitoring offenses and imposing fines. Offenders have the right to submit a grievance claim before the Common Courtesy Department and appeal any fines.
Kickstarting tourism is likely one of the centrepieces of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Imaginative and prescient 2030 reform programme to organize the most important Arab financial system for a post-oil period.
Saudi Arabia’s religious police once elicited widespread fear, chasing men and women out of malls to pray and berating anyone seen mingling with the opposite sex.