World

Women attend Football Matches in Saudi Arabia for the First Time

Women attend Football Matches in Saudi Arabia for the First Time

Women attended a soccer match in Saudi Arabia for the first time on Friday. It is the first time that Saudi female citizens and families attended sporting events in the stadium.

The momentous occasion is part of the reforms being brought in by crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has pledged to "return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam".

More than just an incremental step toward greater rights, the presence of women in the sports stadium underscored a wider effort to integrate women in society and grant them more public visibility in a country where gender segregation is widely enforced and where most women cover their faces and hair with black veils and don loose-flowing black robes, known as abayas.

The move to open up stadiums to women for the first time was announced last October.

Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old from Jeddah, told Agence France-Press she was proud and looking forward to the match.

"Ittihad fans, male and female, are the support of this club, and success is not complete without them coming together to serve this historic entity", the club tweeted. They were seated in the special "family section", with their male relatives, but segregated from the all-male crowd. "I feel very proud because I am witness to this change".

Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, said Friday was a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates [in] ongoing fundamental changes". Previously, women caught inside a stadium were arrested.

A decades long ban on cinemas was lifted in December as part of the crown prince's vision to boost the country's entertainment industry.

Saudi Arabia plans to extradite its nationals living overseas and involved in corruption cases, the Sabq local online news reported on Thursday.


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