Finally! Women Allowed to Watch Football Match in Saudi Arabia

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Incredibly, it has taken this long, but Saudi Arabia has finally allowed women to spectate at a football match.

The move is part of an easing of strict rules on gender separation by the ultra-conservative Muslim country.

Women fans filed into a stadium in the city of Jeddah, through family gates into family seating.

But even segregated as they were, their presence in the stadium marked a significant moment for the Kingdom, reported the BBC.

Earlier the same day, ahead of the football game, there was another small sign of change: the country’s first car showroom dedicated to female customers was opened.

For the first time, women will this June be allowed to get behind the wheel, after it was announced in September that a ban on women drivers would be lifted.

At the stadium in Jeddah, female ushers were employed to greet the women fans and their families, who loudly cheered on the local team. Both ushers and fans wore the traditional black abaya robe.

A hashtag, translated as “the people welcome the entry of women into stadiums”, was used tens of thousands of times in two hours as the match took place.

Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old football fan from Jeddah, told AFP she was proud and looking forward to the match.

“This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future. I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change,” she told the AFP news agency.

Female Saudi supporters of Al-Ahli queue at an entrance for families and women at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah on January 12, 2018,Image AFP

 

There are many things that Saudi women are still unable to do without permission from the men in their lives, including:

  • Apply for passports
  • Travel abroad
  • Get married
  • Open a bank account
  • Start certain businesses
  • Get elective surgery
  • Leave prison

The recent reforms are part of a gradual process of modernisation under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is attempting to make the Kingdom more moderate.

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