The reason why men aren’t allowed to walk dogs or take cats out on a stroll in Riyadh as of Wednesday is because they aren’t allowed to buy pets there any more. A hamster, maybe. A goldfish, probably, but not a dog or a cat. If a person has a pet already, the person can keep the pet, just not take it outside. As of Wednesday, the ban went into effect.
According to this AP article, some men, it seems, were using their furry friends as a way to get up close and personal with women and bother families–a big no no in Saudi Arabia. The sexes are to be separate from each other. Dogs and cats are ice breakers for bridging the divide.
As bans go, this one sounds a bit loosey goosey since as of the writing of the article, people didn’t know about the ban, including a pet shop owner. The other detail the article pointed out is that it’s not often that people walk dogs in Riyadh anyway and when do people really walk cats?
From what the people who were interviewed said, it doesn’t sound as if people are planning to follow the ban, just like what happened when there was a ban on cell phones with cameras back in 2004. The fear there was that people of the opposite sex would use the cameras to take pictures of each other. People didn’t go along with that ban so it was dropped.
If you are planning on heading to Saudi Arabia, I’d leave the pooch or kitty at home unless you don’t mind them having a stay under the care of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the name for the religious police who are doing the pet confiscating.
One thought about this ban is that it’s really to control pet ownership which is seen as a Western influence. Dog ownership has not been part of Saudi culture until more recently. Cats, though, have, so it is unclear why they are being picked on.
Dispatches from around the world