Saudi stadiums open for women in a first to watch soccer

Saudi stadiums open for women in a first to watch soccer

The Islamic kingdom has announced a series of reforms initiated by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since a year ago.

Live from Saudi Arabia's sports pride, The Shining Jewel stadium, over 4,000 fans coming in with their families packed the arena, sources told Asharq Al Awsat.

On Thursday, Jeddah held Saudi Arabia's first auto exhibition aimed at women, a few months after the Kingdom announced it would grant them the right to drive.

Women could attend the match after strict gender segregation was eased by authority in October past year.

Women will also be allowed to attend a match on Saturday in the capital Riyadh and on January 18 in the eastern city of Dammam. Soccer is very popular in Saudi Arabia, with many fans of global and local leagues, but female enthusiasts long had to content themselves with watching their favorite teams on television.

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Although they were placed in the "family section", segregated from the male-only section, and had a separate entrance, parking lot and prayer area, they were allowed to cheer, take pictures and enjoy the action on the pitch just like men have been doing for decades. "I feel very proud because I am witness to this change".

Some used the hashtag to share photos of female spectators wearing their team's colors in scarves thrown over their abayas.

Despite the breakthrough, there are still a host of basic human rights denied to women without the permission of a man, including applying for a passport, travelling overseas, and getting married. The company plans to open more automobiles showrooms for women in the oil-rich kingdom. The kingdom's stadium had not been built with women in mind, so modifications were made so that they could attend matches.

"Al-Ahli v Al-Batin match at Jeddah stadium makes history as first to allow women to sit in designated family stands", wrote The Guardian.

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