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Saudis to Allow Unmarried Tourist Couples to Share Hotel Rooms

In a move seen as an attempt to further promote tourism to Saudi Arabia, authorities will now allow unmarried tourist couples to stay in the same hotel room. Previously, visitors to the ultraconservative Sunni Muslim kingdom had to provide proof of marriage; now, they will only have to provide a passport. Saudi nationals staying at the same hotels will still have to provide official proof of a relationship, but in another change, Saudi women – who previously had been unable to check into a hotel alone – will now be allowed to do so by providing only a valid ID. Saudi Arabia has harsh laws against adultery that include punishments ranging from prison to death. The kingdom has unveiled a new initiative called Vison 2030 in an attempt to grow income from sources other than oil. Tourism is high on its agenda, and new construction projects as well as liberalized policies are being unveiled to help develop the sector.