RIYADH: Sports stadiums in Saudi Arabia will open their doors to women to attend football matches for the first time ever on Friday, the government has announced.
“The first match that women will be allowed to watch will be Al-Ahli versus Al-Batin on Friday, January 12,” the ministry of information said in a statement on Monday.
It said women would also be able to attend a second match on the following day and a third one on January 18.
Women from across the vast Gulf kingdom may be able to take advantage of this new freedom as the first match will be held in the capital, Riyadh, the second in Jeddah by the Red Sea and the third in the eastern city of Dammam.
In September, women were allowed to enter Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium to mark the 87th anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s foundation.
“It is the first time I have come to the stadium and I feel like more of a Saudi citizen. Now I can go everywhere in my country,” Reuters had quoted 25-year-old Sultana, green and white flags painted on both cheeks as she entered the complex with her girlfriends. “God willing, tomorrow women will be permitted bigger and better things like driving and travel.”
A few days after the national day, the Saudi government lifted the travel ban on women.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the reform, requesting that drivers’ licences be issued to women who wanted them. The decrees freed women from the requirement of getting permission from a legal guardian to get a licence.