RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – A Saudi official says a screen will separate genders on the country's main advisory body to King Abdullah when women join it for the first time.
Following a decision by Abdullah, women will be allowed to join the Shura Council, his main group of advisers expected to reconvene early next year. The format is seen as a compromise with hardline Islamic factions that oppose even small reforms in the ultraconservative kingdom, where sex segregation is a widespread custom.
Abdullah has pledged to allow women to vote and run in the next municipal elections in 2015. But Saudi women still face many restrictions, including a ban on driving.
The official, quoted in Al-Watan newspaper on Wednesday, says an internal communications network will allow men and women to communicate despite the barrier.