Saudi women attend sports event for first time

Tui Catch-a Million winner Craig celebrates his catch attempt of the six of Blackcaps batsman Martin Guptill

Tui Catch-a Million winner Craig celebrates his catch attempt of the six of Blackcaps batsman Martin Guptill Source

Saudi women were allowed to attend a football match at a public stadium for the first time on Friday, as part of a series of reforms aimed at easing gender restrictions in the conservative Muslim country.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, has been hailed as the face of these changes.

On Thursday, Jeddah held Saudi Arabia's first auto exhibition aimed at women, a few months after Saudi Arabia announced it would grant them the right to drive.

The so-called "family sections" were created to keep women separated from the male-only crowds, while the stadium was also fitted with female prayer areas and restrooms.

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

The order opened the previously male-only venues of King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam to accommodate families. The stadiums have also been fitted with female restrooms and separate entrances and parking lots for female spectators.

Despite the landmark development for women's freedom, less than half of the "family section" was filled.

While many supported and welcomed the decision to allow women into stadiums, others spoke out against it.

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