Saudi Arabia Will Let Women Wear Bikinis (But Only at Ritzy New Resort Where Kingdom Plans to Make Billions)

Sunset on the Red Sea. Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where getting released from prison without a male guardian is still hailed as a feminist victory, has some of the most repressive policies toward women in the world.

Yet, the new heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has said he hopes to modernize the country. (He apparently even supports women driving.)

The Kingdom recently released a grand plan called Saudi Vision 2030. It is an effort to move the economy away from complete dependence on oil, and toward other money-makers like health, education, infrastructure, and tourism.

In the spirit of attracting international vacationers, the Saudis are now building a luxury tourist destination known as the Red Sea Project. There will be 125 miles of beaches, and 50 reef-fringed islands, and, of course, women in bikinis, USA Today reports. The government hopes the resort will make approximately $4 billion annually to support the Saudi economy, according to Haaretz.

Historically, under Saudi law, women are expected to fully cover their heads and bodies. Swimsuits are only allowed inside female-only swimming pools and gender-segregated gyms.

But at the new resort, and only at the new resort, Saudi women will be permitted to wear clothing keeping with international standards, such as bikinis.

In other words, it’s a little like when your boyfriend gives you sexy lingerie. It’s kind of a present for you, but mostly a present for him.

Saudi Arabia Will Let Women Wear Bikinis at Ritzy New Resort