RIYADH – Single men can now enter shopping centers and malls in the capital on the condition that they do not misbehave with women shoppers and follow security regulations.
A directive to this effect was issued by Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of Riyadh region, on the recommendation of a tripartite committee comprising the undersecretary at Riyadh Emirate for Security Affairs, the Hai’a Branch Director in Riyadh and the Riyadh Police Director General.
Previously, single men were only allowed into shopping centers at lunch time on weekdays, a move the authorities said was intended to prevent women being harassed during peak hours.
Managers of shopping centers and malls had banned single men from entering their premises to avoid unruly scenes.
However, the tripartite committee found that the ban had a negative impact as youths gathered outside the malls and often harassed women shoppers.
Dr. Abdullatif Aal Al-Sheikh, President of the Hai’a, has clarified that the Hai’a did not impose any such ban on the youth.
“The Hai’a has never ever issued any directives or orders to prevent single men from entering malls or restricting their movements in any way,” Dr. Abdullatif was quoted as saying in a section of the Arabic press Thursday.
“It should also be understood that the Hai’a does not have anything in its system that bans young men from entering such facilities. In fact, the management of some malls and shopping centers are the ones which prevent the entry of bachelors or ask the Hai’a to do so,” he said.
The Hai’a chief said the main task of the Hai’a is to keep order and discipline.
Since Wednesday, social networking sites have been flooded with the news about the lifting of the ban.
Meanwhile, the Hai’a in Jeddah foiled an attempt Tuesday to smuggle 18,000 bottles of whisky into the country.
The Hai’a was tipped off that a gang of six Asian workers was engaged in unloading thousands of cartons of whisky in an open yard in northern Jeddah, and a team from the Hai’a was tasked with keeping them under close surveillance.
The team cordoned off the area, seized the contraband and handed the workers over to security agencies. – SG