What do you do when you’re a businesswoman living in a country like Saudi Arabia, where until a few months ago, it was illegal for you to set foot into a hotel (where business is often conducted) without a guardian or “mahram”? (Now, after a Royal Decree was issued by Saudi prince Talal Abdul Aziz Al Saud earlier this year, the only requirement for women checking into a hotel is their national ID card. Also, the front desk must inform the local police of their room reservation and the duration of their stay.)
Well, the new Luthan Hotel and Spa, Saudi Arabia’s first women-only hotel, opened in March, was designed to ameliorate the situation. The project came together under the direction of 20 Saudi princesses and businesswoman, according to an article in Marie Claire magazine this month. Men (even boys) are forbidden from entering the property. All staff are women. Inside is a sort of “sanctuary” for female professionals where they can remove their veils, go for a work-out, or hang out at the spa, and presumably hold meetings without ever having to set eyes on a dude. Which is great. Except of course it doesn’t resolve the little matter of having to conduct business with men, who comprise 95 per cent of the workforce.