Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 12:48 UK

Saudi police to enforce pet curbs

Man walks his dog in Riyadh
Dog walking is a fairly rare pursuit in the Saudi Arabian capital

The Saudi religious police have reportedly vowed to strictly enforce a ban on the sale of pet cats and dogs in Riyadh and walking animals in public.

A senior official said it was to stop a rising trend of people trying to evade strict rules on sex segregation.

The claim is that men were using their pets as an excuse to meet women, which is banned in places like restaurants and cafes between non-married people.

Previous bans in other cities have been widely ignored, correspondents say.

The penalty for people found walking pets in the Saudi capital is confiscation of the animal, according to reports in the local press this week.

The religious police - known officially as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - has the job of enforcing Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islam.

In the past they have targeted things like western pop music, fast food or the exchanging of gifts on St Valentine's Day.

However, correspondents say someone walking a dog is an extremely rare sight in Riyadh, much less walking cats.

Saudis clamp down on valentines
11 Feb 08 |  Middle East
Saudi men arrested for 'flirting'
23 Feb 08 |  Middle East
S Arabia eases laws on solo women
22 Jan 08 |  Middle East
Saudi accused of having six wives
31 Jul 08 |  Middle East
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
04 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific