Saudi social reforms: Women attend soccer match for the first time

Saudi women were allowed to attend a soccer game between two local teams in Jeddah on Friday. This was the first time that women have been permitted to share a stadium with male spectators. However, they were forced to sit in a “family section” that separated them from the male fans.
Women in the "family section" of the Jeddah stadium Photo Credit: EPA-EFE

Saudi women were permitted to attend a soccer match between two local teams in a sports stadium in Jeddah on Friday, marking the first time that females in the conservative country were allowed to watch a public sporting event in the same venue as men. However, the women had to sit in a “family section” of the stadium so that they would be separated from the male spectators. The “family section” is for female soccer fans and women accompanied by male family members.

The historic move was the first of the kingdom’s social reforms slated for 2018, which are spearheaded by Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince. Other stadiums in the kingdom will open their doors to women over the next few days.

A few months ago, Saudi King Salman issued a royal decree announcing that women are now allowed to drive in the kingdom. While the order went into effect immediately, it was stressed that it would take the kingdom several months to prepare for the major change and thus women will actually only be able to drive starting in the summer of 2018.

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