Women in Saudi Arabia Can Attending Sporting Events at Select Stadiums

Press Agency SPA Saudi men and women attend national day ceremonies at the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. Saudi women will for the first time be allowed to enter a sports stadium

The first match witnessed by women in the ultra-conservative kingdom will be held at Jeddah's King Abdullah Sports City, which will see the stadium's home team Al-Ahli play against fellow Saudi Pro League team Al-Batin from the Eastern Province.

But in September, hundreds of women were allowed to enter a sports stadium in the capital Riyadh, used mostly for football matches, for the first time to attend celebrations marking Saudi Arabia's national day.

At least 1,200 tickets have been bought by women and families for Friday's game, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported, citing a sales official.

The loosening on restrictions on women in Saudi public life has been spearheaded by the kingdom's young crown prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman. The government's General Sports Authority said this week that three stadiums had so far been modified to accommodate women through the addition of private sections for women and their male relatives, female bathrooms and even prayer areas.

Al-Ittihad, one of the country's top football clubs, is scheduled to play in a derby game in front of mixed spectators on Saturday.

The Guardian reports that, prior to today, January 12, 2018 women in Saudi Arabia could only watch games from television sets at home.

Prior to the decision, only men were allowed to drive and women who were caught doing so were fined and arrested. Saudi labor laws now stipulate that women, with a few notable exceptions, should not work in the hours between sunset and sunrise. In 2015, an Australian female supporter of Western Sydney Wanderers soccer club was permitted to attend a match at Riyadh's main stadium and a group of American women traveling with members of U.S. Congress watched a local club match, also in Riyadh.

Dubai-based ride hailing app Careem has reportedly already received thousands of applications from Saudi women interested in becoming drivers once the Gulf kingdom lifts its driving ban in June.

Details are emerging on how tourist visas to Saudi Arabia will work, as the kingdom opens itself up to global visitors. The Gulf kingdom is the only country in the world that bans women from driving.



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