Saudi women allowed to attend football match for first time

Female football fans entered a stadium in Saudi Arabia's western city of Jeddah on Friday, becoming the first women to attend a football match in the conservative kingdom.

"It is so much better here".

At the stadium in Jeddah, female ushers were employed to greet the women fans and their families, who loudly cheered on the local team.

"I am proud and extremely happy for this development and for the kingdom's moves to catch up with civilised measures adopted by many countries", she said.

The stadium has designated "family section" for the women spectators in the stands where they were allowed to observe the game with other family members, also an attempt to separate them from single men.

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

Both clubs also reportedly offered shirts at discount prices to attract female fans.

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It is the first time women have been allowed to watch professional sports games in Saudi Arabia.

"The general sports authority has provided everything that would create an attractive sports environment for families and provide everything needed to ensure their privacy", the country's sports governing body said.

"It's actually my first time watching a football game live in the stadium".

On Thursday, women flocked to Le Mall in Jeddah to view the kingdom's first auto exhibition aimed at them, a few months after King Salman issued a decree granting them the right to drive from June 2018 - a move opposed by hardline clerics.

The decree opened the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh, King Abdullah Sport City stadium in Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd stadium in Dammam to women and families.

Powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have championed lifting the ban as he is seeking to open up the country and revamp its global image.

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

  • Megan Austin