Saudi women have been allowed into a sports stadium for the first time to watch a football match between two local teams.
However, they were segregated in the stands from the male-only crowd with designated seating in the so-called “family section”. The move was the first of Saudi Arabia’s social reforms planned for this year to ease restrictions on women, spearheaded by the kingdom’s 32-year-old crown prince.
The kingdom has also announced that, starting in June, women will be allowed to drive, lifting the world’s only ban on female drivers.
The presence of women in the sports stadium underscored a wider effort to integrate women in society and grant them more public visibility in a country where gender segregation is widely enforced and where most women cover their faces and hair with black veils and don loose-flowing black robes, known as abayas.
The first stadium to open its doors to women was in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The stadium in the capital Riyadh will open to women tomorrow, followed by the western city of Dammam on Thursday.