Illustration for article titled Men and women can now eat together in restaurants in Saudi Arabia
Photo: Alessandro Biascioli (iStock)

Saudi Arabia has been trying hard in recent years to rehabilitate its reputation as a repressive place for women. They can now wear colors. As of last year, they can drive. Earlier this year, a royal decree by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman permitted them to travel abroad without a male guardian’s permission. And now they can walk through the same door to a restaurant as men.

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Previously, restaurants, even fast food counters, had to have separate entrances for men and women, and inside the genders were separated by screens. Children, of course, went with their mothers. However, the BBC reports, most restaurants, cafes, and other meeting places were already ignoring that rule. Now the segregation is at the discretion of individual restaurants.

Before you get too excited, though, there are still plenty of laws on the books that limit women’s freedom. Women can’t marry or leave prison or a domestic violence shelter without male permission, for example, and several women’s rights advocates have been arrested.

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Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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