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Saudi authorities allow private girls' schools to hold sports activities, within Islamic rules

  • FILE - In this May 21, 2012 file photo, members of a Saudi female soccer team practice at a secret location in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s official press agency says the Education Ministry has allowed private female schools to hold sports activities within the Islamic Sharia laws. SPA said Saturday, May 4, 2013 that the ministry issued directives ordering private female schools to provide appropriate places and equipment for such activities, adhere to wearing decent dress and that Saudi women teachers should be given priority in supervising these activities.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)The Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 21, 2012 photo, Mawada Chaballout, a 27-year-old American member of a Saudi female soccer team practices at a secret location in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s official press agency says the Education Ministry has allowed private female schools to hold sports activities within the Islamic Sharia laws. SPA said Saturday, May 4, 2013 that the ministry issued directives ordering private female schools to provide appropriate places and equipment for such activities, adhere to wearing decent dress and that Saudi women teachers should be given priority in supervising these activities.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)The Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 file photo, Saudi Arabia's Wojdan Shahrkani and Puerto Rico's Melissa Mojica compete during the women's 78-kg judo competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Saudi Arabia’s official press agency says the Education Ministry has allowed private female schools to hold sports activities within the Islamic Sharia laws. SPA said Saturday, May 4, 2013 that the ministry issued directives ordering private female schools to provide appropriate places and equipment for such activities, adhere to wearing decent dress and that Saudi women teachers should be given priority in supervising these activities. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)The Associated Press

Saudi Arabia's official press agency says private girls' schools are now allowed to hold sports activities in the kingdom, "according to the rules of Shariah."

Saudi Arabia follows an ultraconservative interpretation of Shariah, or Islamic law. It still prohibits sports lessons in government-run girls' schools, and female sports clubs are banned.

The agency said Saturday the Education Ministry ordered private girls' schools to provide appropriate places and equipment for sports. Students must adhere to "decent dress" codes and Saudi women teachers should be given priority in supervising.

The ministry said some private girls' schools have been holding sports activities without rules protecting the interests of the students and their health.

Two Saudi females competed for the first time in last year's Olympics wearing a modified veil agreed by Olympic officials.