Saudi women allowed entry to stadium

Analysis How Al Ittihad managed to prevent Al Hilal win in Saudi Clasico

Analysis How Al Ittihad managed to prevent Al Hilal win in Saudi Clasico

His reforms, which include allowing cinemas to open in March after a more than 35-year ban, are also aimed at creating more jobs and increasing local spending on entertainment as the country faces several more years of budget deficit amid continued lower oil prices.

Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, called Friday a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates (in) ongoing fundamental changes".

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 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.

The stadiums were also fitted with female prayer areas and toilets, as well as separate entrances and vehicle parks for female spectators. Both ushers and fans wore the traditional black abaya robe.

Yesterday's match was the first in a series that will be open to women: a second is due to take place on today and a third on January 18.

Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old football fan from Jeddah, told AFP she was proud and looked forward to the match.

"This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future".

"I came with my father and my brother - we're fans of Al-Ahli", said university student Areej al-Ghamdi, adding that she had always cheered the club from home."This is the first time we'll be cheering for real, not just in front of the television", she told the Agence France-Presse.

Women joined male spectators on Friday at the domestic soccer league match in the western city of Jeddah.

The arenas set up the "family sections" already used by other venues in Saudi Arabia, but also added female prayer areas and rest rooms.

The female spectators, segregated in the "family section" of the stands, stood and cheered when local players scored goals. The move followed the country's first Comic Con convention in Jeddah in February. They believe the morals of Saudi citizens will be corrupted and they have challenged perceptions of Islamic and national identity.

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