Jeddah – Saudi Arabia is increasingly relaxing the rules for its citizens. Now, local tourists are allowed to go to the beach with their girlfriends.

For Asma, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, spending the day with her lover on the beaches in Saudi Arabia is unthinkable. But now, the 32-year-old woman can dance with her partner on the white sand by the Red Sea to the accompaniment of music from loudspeakers.

Asma and her boyfriend only need to pay the entrance ticket to Pure Beach near Jeddah of 300 Saudi riyals per person. They are not the only couple. A man and a woman holding hands on a beach that has the words “Saudi Arabia” in English when viewed from above.

“I’m glad I can now go to the nearest beach to enjoy my time,” said Asma.

“It’s a symbol of happiness, it’s our dream to come here and spend a wonderful weekend,” she added.

In addition to being able to come with a lover and put on music with loudspeakers, now female tourists are also allowed to wear bikinis in the beach area. Some of them relax while smoking Shisha.

The music that is played is not only local music, but western songs. They talk, cuddle, hug, make out.

In many countries, this practice is not a strange sight, but it is different for Saudi Arabia.

Music was banned in public places until 2017. Women can go to the beach, but the area is separated from men. In fact, women are prohibited from driving until 2018.

The pair of tourists were also spotted outside the Jeddah area, which is known as the country’s most laid-back area. Pure Beach is in King Abdullah Economic City, about 125 kilometers north of downtown Jeddah.

“I grew up here, and a few years ago we weren’t even allowed to listen to music, so it’s like heaven,” said Hadeel Omar from Egypt.

Bilal Saudi, head of events at King Abdullah Economic City, said the beach targeted local visitors and foreign tourists alike.

“I feel that I no longer have to travel (abroad) to have fun, because everything is here,” said Dima, a young Saudi businessman, swaying to the music.

Officials at the beach said they did not know whether the couple was married or not. It was only two years ago that unmarried foreign couples were allowed to share hotel rooms.

For the sake of ‘privacy’, as the staff put it, the phones were confiscated and kept in plastic bags.

“I was surprised by the freedom and openness on the beach, something only experienced in the United States,” said the beachgoer.

Furthermore, Saleh said that what was still lacking was the ban on cocktails. Yes, the ban on alcoholic beverages still applies nationally.

“Life like this is normal in Saudi Arabia. Before, it was not normal,” said Asma.