Jan 12, 2018, 5:56 PM ET

Saudi Arabia allows women to attend soccer match


In a historic move permitted by Saudi rulers, a stadium in Saudi Arabia’s second city, Jeddah, allowed women to attend a soccer match between two local teams.

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Dressed in headscarves and long flowing abbayas the women filed into the stadium, ushered by women in orange T-shirts over their conservative dress, to take up seats at the “family section" of the stands, separate from the male spectators. The structure of the stadium accommodated the segregation with women-only car parks and separate entrances for the female spectators.

These sections are found throughout the country in public places, such as restaurants. Men and women can only sit together as married couples or if they are directly related.

Despite the landmark development for women’s freedom, less than half of the “family section” was filled.

PHOTO: Female Saudi supporters of Al-Ahli attend their teams football match against Al-Batin in the Saudi Pro League at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Jan. 12, 2018.AFP/Getty Images
Female Saudi supporters of Al-Ahli attend their teams football match against Al-Batin in the Saudi Pro League at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Jan. 12, 2018.

Saudi Arabia will see more mixed stadiums opening over the next few days with the capital Riyadh opening its stadium tomorrow and the city of Damam next week.

“It’s very nice and it’s about time.” Karima Buchari, a college lecturer and mother of two teenage daughters in Riyadh, told ABC News. She watched the women at the stadium on the news.

“It’s a huge change because they just used to keep those places for men," she said.

The new measure for women is part of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s reforms in the Kingdom to reduce restrictions for women and to modernize the country. Last year he announced that women will be allowed to drive beginning in June 2018 and in 2015 women were allowed to vote and represent themselves for the first time in municipal elections.

“Soon they’ll have women playing football.” Buchari said. She regards Prince Salman as a champion for women.

“Yes, he is a hero and this era is the Saudi women’s time for sure,” she said.

These small steps towards women’s freedom in Saudi Arabia do not address the permissions they still need from men to go about their daily lives; these include: getting married, opening a bank account, elective surgery, traveling abroad.

Buchari remains hopeful that there will be more concessions for her freedom to come.

“I hope we use it [the freedoms] wisely and we make the country proud of our accomplishments,” she said.

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  • Imjustdone

    its a small start for the Saudi women, good for them!

  • Kajsa Williams

    Kudos Saudi Arabia, for starting to treat women like normal people. I think you'll find that most guys will enjoy the results (as well as most women).

  • 3 Wise Men

    Saudi man has with his hands over his ears, thinking about alcohol while listening to;

    Was that a goal? Why did the one guy pick up the ball? How come the guy in the goal has a different color uniform? He tripped that guy, is that a penalty? This is boring, I want to go home.........

  • Winston Jones, Model Citizen

    Wow...what a wonderful day for Saudi Women!! The suffering, starvation and disease in Yemen is better already..and the blockade around Qatar certainly seems logical now. With the Saudi Coalition fighting 90% of all war on the planet, it's a step up for Saudi women to get to see a sporting event.

    Once we deliver Iran, maybe women will be able to drive. If we were to rid the world of all secular and/or Shi'ite governments, they would probably loosen up and allow, say, cameras in a public places.

    All we can do, is to fight the enemies of the Coalition and hope the King is in a good mood once we're done....and that Saudi women enjoy their soccer games.... and ISIS is going to need new SUVs for their next convoy in Syria.

  • u2kforever™

    Its not called the 20th century , its called freedom and respect. Which they still do not have, because if they did they wouldn't be wearing those shower curtains over their bodies. men controlling women, and saying GOD is telling them to do it, which its really "god" telling them that., and "god" is Satan.