Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

Saudi women creates history by watching soccer match

Saudi women attend sports event for first time Saudi Arabia: Women watch football match in stadium for first time
Lisa Bryan | 14 January, 2018, 00:46

In October, the kingdom's General Sports Authority announced that stadiums in Jiddah, Riyadh, and Dammam would be altered to allow for family visits.

One woman described it as a great experience, completely unlike watching at home.

Observers say the changes are part of an attempt by the government to ease public discontent about the struggling economy, and to win support for economic reforms being pushed through by the Crown Prince.

At least 1,200 tickets have been bought by women and families for Friday's game, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported, citing a sales official. Women will now be allowed to attend the matches, but will have to sit in segregated areas away from men, and must wear loose-fitting, full-length robes known as 'abayas, ' as well as a headscarf, if they are Muslim. "Some thought it wouldn't be very safe or organized", said Swick, who attended the game with her Saudi husband and son, and her American mother. This is more than women's rights: today's match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin, and the ones to follow, are opportunities for families to come together and enjoy KSA's national sport - soccer!


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.

In 2015, a Saudi woman who tried to attend a soccer game in Jiddah was arrested after local media said she was spotted by security officers "deliberately disguised" in trousers, a long-sleeve top, a hat and sunglasses to avoid detection.

There are still many things women are unable to do without permission, such as applying for passports, travelling overseas, opening a bank account and starting certain businesses.

Over the years, though, there have been some exceptions for foreign women.

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