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Saudi women to be allowed into sports stadiums next year

Saudi women to be allowed into sports stadiums next year

Riyadh - saudi Arabia will allow women to attend sporting events in three stages of the country from 2018, said Sunday the authorities, a first in this kingdom ultraconservateur.

A few days earlier, hundreds of Saudi women took place for the first time in a stadium in Riyadh, on the occasion of the national holiday, which has given rise to the concerts and fireworks.

It is the second headline-grabbing reform in Saudi Arabia in as many months.

Under the country's guardianship system, a male family member - normally the father, husband or brother - must grant permission for a woman's study, travel and other activities. They can not mix freely with members of the opposite sex, and must wear a full-length black abaya in public.

The announcement comes in the context of a broader plan by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to modernise the Arab state and move away from strict Wahhabi Islam.

The new development is another move towards giving more freedom to Saudi women, who face strict gender segregation rules, and follows the historic lifting of a driving ban.

"It was one of a raft of decisions announced by Turki Al-Asheikh, chairman of the General Sports Authority, aimed at supporting and stimulating the sports sector", arabnews.com reported.

The previously male-only venues of King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, King Abdullah Sport City in Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam will begin preparations to "accommodate families", the statement said.

And in September, women were given permission to drive for the first time after a royal decree lifted a long-standing ban.

The ultra-conservative state had gained negative worldwide attention for years after detaining women who defied the ban. At this stage, it is still unclear if men and women will be required to sit separately.