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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 00:31 GMT
S Arabia eases laws on solo women
Saudi women gets into a taxi in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code still prevents women from driving
The authorities in Saudi Arabia have decided to end a ban on unaccompanied women staying in the country's hotels.

A woman can now stay in a hotel alone as long as she carries identification.

Based on a royal decree, the move marks a break from religious codes requiring women to be accompanied by a male guardian at all times.

The decree allowed the Ministry of Trade to outline new regulations simply requiring women to show photographic ID to hotel managers.

This must then be registered with local police.

The decision was reported by the local daily al-Watan newspaper, which is considered close to the Saudi government, on Monday.

Driving ban remains

The decree was formulated last month in coordination with Saudi's Ministry of the Interior and the religious police organisation, the paper reported.

Activists accuse both bodies of blocking improved women's rights in the country.

Under Saudi Arabia's conservative Islamic code, women suffer severe restrictions on daily life.

They are not allowed to appear before a judge without a male representative, or travel abroad without a male guardian's permission.

Nor are they allowed to drive, although King Abdullah has said he would be in favour of lifting this ban if society accepts it.

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