As part of Saudi Arabia's never-ending mission to clamp down on immoral behaviour, religious police in the capital Riyadh have banned the sale of cats and dogs, and prohibited men from walking dogs in public.
While taking your pet for a stroll may not seem like the most immoral of acts, the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice are acting on the basis of a time-honoured stereotype – the ladies just love cuddly animals, and are guaranteed to fall for any man displaying similar affections.
Speaking to state newspaper Al-Hayat, the commission's general manager Othman al-Othman explained that the ban is designed to put a stop to "the rising of phenomenon of men using cats and dogs to make passes at women and pester families" as well as "violating proper behaviour in public squares and malls."
However, it remains to be seen if moral standards in Riyadh will soar as a result of the ban. Pet ownership is fairly rare in Saudi Arabia and similar bans in Mecca and Jiddah have failed to have the desired effect.
Reporting on the ban, Associated Press offer another possible reason – the ruling conservative Saudis view pets as a Western trend, popular among fashionable youngsters, just like pop music, fast food and jeans.