‘Allow youth in’: Campaigners against rejecting young men at restaurants demand

Author: LULWA SHALHOUBFri, 2017-05-12 03:00ID: 1494550357902990600
JEDDAH: A group of young men are campaigning for their right to unwind and dine at local restaurants and cafes on the weekend, without facing the “Families Only” sign.
An Arabic slogan that translates as “allow youth in” is what Mohammad Bahareth and his 20 co-members of the Makkah Youth Council are calling for to counter blocking young men from public places without a legal reference.
“Restaurants who are open for families only need a statement from the municipality to prove (they are allowed to do so),” Bahareth, founder of “allow youth in”, told Arab News.
“We’re taking the initiative to keep track and report these violations to the municipality,” he said.
The group hopes the campaign will help loosen the restrictions against young men who are looking to spend an evening at a restaurant with friends on weekends.
“According to the municipality, restaurants and cafes are only allowed to open part of the singles’ section for families on busy days like weekends and holidays. But they are not allowed to take over the whole section and close it,” Bahareth said.
Among the violations that the group has spotted is sticking an A4 sheet of paper with the phrase “Families Only” on top of the official “Singles Section” sign.
Rejecting youth creates frustration among young people, so “they resort to bad habits,” said 33-year-old Bahareth. He added that when young men are not allowed to enter public places “they feel rejected by their society.”
He said the issue makes them go to places that are always open to single men like fast food chains that contribute to unhealthy diets, or shisha places where they learn bad habits like smoking.
“I believe once this issue is resolved, activities like wall vandalism and car drifting will become limited. These acts are reactions to being rejected,” Bahareth said.
Restaurants and cafes in Saudi Arabia are divided into two sections: One for single males, and another for families.
In 2012, men unaccompanied by women were allowed to enter shopping malls after being banned from entering these “family only” areas.
More than half of the Saudi population is under the age of 25.
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