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Women Can Now Stay in Hotels Without Male Guardians, Saudi Officials Say

Women in Saudi Arabia can now stay in a hotel or a furnished apartment without a male guardian according to decision by the Ministry of Trade, reported the local press Monday.

The daily Al-Watan, which is deemed close to the Saudi government, said the ministry issued a circular to the hotels asking them to accept women in their rooms even if they were alone provided that all their information immediately be to a police station in the area.

The decision was adopted after a study conducted by the Interior Ministry, the Supreme Commission of Tourism and the religious police authority known as the Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

Saudi women, under strict Islamic law, suffer severe restrictions on daily life as they are not allowed to be anywhere with an unrelated man, cannot drive, appear before a judge without a male representative, or travel abroad without a male guardian's permission.

The paper interviewed some Saudi women who complained that they had been severely inconvenienced by the rules banning them from staying in the hotels alone.

It quoted a woman identified as saying that she once arrived late at night at King Fahd airport on an internal flight and was denied a hotel room because she was alone.

Another woman, Fatima Ibrahim, said her son-in-law quarreled with his wife and daughters and threw them out of the house. When they tried to get a hotel room, they were asked to get a permission from the police.