Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Saudi Arabia's Football Stadium Welcomes Women For First Time

Saudi Arabia's Football Stadium Welcomes Women For First Time

More than just an incremental step toward greater rights, the presence of women in the sports stadium underscored a wider effort to integrate women in society and grant them more public visibility in a country where gender segregation is widely enforced and where most women cover their faces and hair with black veils and don loose-flowing black robes, known as abayas. It also seeks to get Saudi families to spend more of their money on entertainment at home instead of going overseas to have fun.

Attorney General Shaikh Saud Al Mujab asserted that anti-corruption efforts would continue and suspects in corruption cases who fled the country would be brought back in cooperation with states they are living in through worldwide arrest warrants after enough evidence is collected against them, Xinhua news agency reported.

Al Ahli's match was a social media spectacle and global media also kept its eyes locked. This was the first time that women have been permitted to share a stadium with male spectators.

Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old from Jeddah, told Agence France-Press she was proud and looking forward to the match.

"This is an historic day in the kingdom which culminates in ongoing fundamental changes, " said Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another fan.

Saudi authorities announced on October 30, lifting the ban on women entering sports stadiums, allowing them to attend events in three stadiums as of 2018.

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.

"Today, things have changed".

Fatimah Baeshen, spokeswoman at the Saudi embassy in Washington "rooted for the ladies" in a message on Twitter.

A Saudi private company on Thursday opened the first vehicle showroom for women only just five months before a decision allowing females to drive takes effect. "I think there's a lot of excitement when you walked in, especially among the children", said Sarah Swick of the match between Saudi soccer teams Al-Ahli and Al-Batin. "I'm rooting for the ladies - enjoy!"

The Saudi government said last week women would be allowed to attend a second match on Saturday and a third next Thursday.

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