Cairo: Restaurants in Saudi Arabia will no longer be obliged to designate separate entrances for families and single men as the kingdom is pursing a dramatic modernisation drive.

The Saudi Ministry of Municipal and Village Ministry has scrapped the decades-old segregation condition for licensing restaurants, the country’s official news agency SPA reported on Sunday.

According to the new regulations, endorsed by Minister Majed Bin Abdullah, restaurants are no longer required to allocate “special spaces”, the agency added without elaborating. For long, restaurants in Saudi Arabia have had to set up barriers separating families from other customers.

The relaxed rules are part of revamped technical regulations pertaining to other activities in the kingdom such as wedding halls, cinemas, petrol stations and private schools.

“The aim is to improve the beneficiaries’ experience, increasing opportunities for investment and regulate urban development,” Undersecretary of the Ministry of Municipal and Village Affairs for Technical Affairs Khaled Al Jamaz said.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has implemented sweeping social and economic reforms, as the country is seeking to shed its ultra-conservative image.

Last year, women in the kingdom were allowed to go behind the wheel, ending a years-long ban on female driving. Cinemas were also reopened. Top entertainers from across the globe have performed at sell-out concerts in Saudi Arabia in recent months.