Society 12:03 13/01/2018 World

Saudi Arabia allows women at football game for first time

Saudi Arabia has for the first time allowed women to spectate at a football match, 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 on Friday, through family gates into family seating, BBC News reports.

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

It follows a series of reforms intended to modernise the country.

Earlier on Friday, 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.

Women at the car showroom milled around inspecting vehicles that they will be allowed to take out on the road when the ban ends.

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.

Under Saudi Arabia's guardianship system, women must be accompanied by a male family member to travel, and work. Most restaurants and cafes have two sections, one for just men and one for families, which are for women and their husbands and families.

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.



Source Panorama.am
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