Saudi Arabia to allow women into sports arenas in 3 cities by 2018

Saudi women sit in a stadium for the first time to attend an event in the capital Riyadh on September 23, 2017 commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the kingdom. The presence of women at the King Fahd stadium marks a departure from previous celebrations in the Gulf kingdom where they are effectively barred from sports arenas by strict rules on public segregation of the sexes. (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Just over a month after Saudi Arabia permitted women to enter its national sports arena for the first time and that it would end the ban on women driving next year, the country has announced that women will be allowed into the sports arenas of three major cities by 2018.

As CNN reports, a statement issued on Sunday by the General Sport Authority, Saudi Arabia’s governing body for sports, said the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, King Abdullah Sport City in Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam will begin preparations to “accommodate families.” These venues are the largest and most important in the country, collectively housing six teams of the Saudi Professional League, the top soccer division in Saudi Arabia.

It is not yet clear how the seating arrangements will work, but men and women typically sit separately in public places that both are allowed to frequent. According to the BBC, restaurants and monitor screens will be set up to accommodate female stadium-goers.

The reforms are part of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” program, a broader initiative to revitalize the country’s economy and society. Though the kingdom has long adhered to a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam, it has in recent months softened some of its restrictive rules — particularly ones that affect women. In late September, most notably, the government of Saudi Arabia announced that it would lift its driving ban for women, which had long been seen as a symbol of women’s oppression.

Read the full story at CNN.


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