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Saudi Arabian women enter football stadiums for first time EVER as they turn up for crunch match between local stars

FEMALE football fans were queuing up to see a match for the first time since a law change allowed them to enter stadiums in Saudi Arabia.

Supporters made history today as they queued at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

They were able to watch their team Al-Ahli play Al-Batin from the stands in the Saudi Pro League.

In recent months Saudi Arabia has been giving additional rights to women following backlash from activists.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pledged to transform the country with the government's Vision 2030 programme.

He wants to give Saudi women more freedom following the historic lifting of a driving ban in September 2017.



All unaccompanied adult women are now allowed to enter stadiums in three major cities – Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

There will be specially allocated seating for females and family in the stands at all matches.

The women must wear their loose-fitting, full-length robes known as "abayas", as well as a headscarf if they are Muslim.

The stadiums have also been fitted with female prayer areas, restrooms and smoking areas, as well as separate entrances and parking lots for female spectators.



While many have welcomed the decision, others have spoken out against it. An Arabic hashtag on Twitter about women entering stadiums had more than 50,000 tweets by mid-day.

Many used the hashtag to write that women's place should be in the home, focusing on their children and preserving their faith, and not out at a stadium where male crowds frequently curse and chant raucously.

The first stadium to open its doors to women will be in the Red Sea city of Jiddah for a match between Saudi soccer teams Al-Ahli and Al-Batin later on Friday evening.

The national stadium in the capital, Riyadh, will open to women a day later, on Saturday, followed by the western city of Dammam next Thursday.

These stadiums were built with hundreds of millions of dollars when oil prices were nearly double what they are now. The government spent lavishly on the stadiums in an effort to appease young Saudis and provide spaces for fans eager to cheer on local clubs, as well as hold national parades and ceremonies.

In a one-off, the main stadium in Riyadh allowed families to enter and watch National Day festivities in September marking the first time women had set foot inside the stadium.

What can't unaccompanied Saudi women do?

These things include:

A Saudi woman who tried to attend a soccer game in Jiddah in 2015 was arrested.

Police were quoted in local media at the time as saying that security spotted her at the stadium "deliberately disguised" in pants, a long-sleeve top, a hat and sunglasses to avoid detection.

Over the years, though, there have been some exceptions for foreign women.

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.

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Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5329622/saudi-arabian-women-football-stadiums/

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