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Saudi Arabia eases ban on women riding bikes

Local newspaper says kingdom's religious police now allow women to ride bicycles in recreational areas.

Last Modified: 02 Apr 2013 09:54
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King Abdullah has come under pressure from women activists demanding the right to drive in the kingdom [Getty]

Saudi Arabia will now allow women to ride motorbikes and bicycles but only in restricted areas, a local newspaper has reported.

The al-Yawm daily on Monday cited an unnamed official from the religious police as saying women can ride bikes in parks and recreational areas but they have to be accompanied by a male relative and dressed in the full Islamic head-to-toe abaya.

Saudi Arabia follows an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam and bans women from driving.

Women are also banned from riding motorcycles or bicycles in public places. The newspaper didn't say what triggered the lifting of the ban.

The official says women may not use the bikes for transportation but “only for entertainment'' and that they should shun places where young men gather “to avoid harassment.''

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