Thursday, 18 January, 2018

Women attend Football Matches in Saudi Arabia for the First Time

Saudi women to attend football game for first time In a first, women in Saudi Arabia attend a soccer match
Lillian Steele | 14 January, 2018, 00:32

Jeddah - Saudi women's historic entry into Jeddah's King Abdullah Stadium on Friday and Riyadh's King Fahd International Stadium on Saturday to watch men's soccer matches made international headlines.

The showroom was opened in a shopping mall in the western Red Sea port city of Jeddah to allow women the freedom to choose their own cars before they hit the road.

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

The introduction of women to soccer matches in Saudi is part of reforms in the Kingdom with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, seen by many as the face of that change.

The stadiums were also fitted with female prayer areas and toilets, as well as separate entrances and auto parks for female spectators.

The women's presence marked a significant moment for the ultra-conservative Muslim country and followed a series of reforms meant to modernise the Kingdom.

The prince will inherit a country in which more than half the population is under the age of 25 and yearning for progressive change, which will soon include allowing women into movie theaters and encouraging them to work in the Saudi labor market. "I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change", she told the AFP news agency. "Some thought it wouldn't be very safe or organised", said Swick, who attended the game with her Saudi husband and son, and her American mother.

Among the first were a woman accompanied by a younger female and a girl.

While many welcomed the decision to allow women into stadiums, others spoke out against it. All three stadiums were previously male-only, CNN reported.

Set to inherit a country where more than half the population is under 25 years old and hungry for change, the young crown prince has looked to boost his popularity by curbing almost four decades of deeply entrenched ultraconservative influence.

The country's large new stadiums were built with hundreds of millions of dollars when oil prices were almost double what they are now.

The Saudi Arabian government also plans to allow women to drive, starting in June.

Both clubs also reportedly offered shirts at discount prices to attract female fans.

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