Women in Saudi Arabia are set to be permitted to attend football matches for the first time through the development of special facilities at the under-construction King Abdullah Sports City.
Saudi Arabia applies the austere Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam, which prevents women from traveling or working without the permission of a male relative, bans them from driving and also prohibits attendance at sporting events. However, the Saudi government is now pushing for reforms that will give women more rights. The decision to allow women into sports stadiums follows a proposal submitted by the Saudi Football Federation last year.
According to Emirates 24/7, officials stated last year that women could be allowed into sports stadiums in big cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam as a first step to fully lifting the ban. Jeddah’s huge King Abdullah Sports City development is set to become the first beneficiary of this change after officials stated they had received instructions to develop the stadium so it will be prepared to accept families in 2014. The Sports City’s centrepiece is a 60,000-capacity stadium.
“Sources close to the stadium said more than 15% of the facility will be allocated for families when the facility is fully completed in 2014,” reported the Arabic daily Al Sharq. “Besides families, female journalists and photographers will also be admitted into the stadium and will be allocated exclusive places away from male journalists so they can cover local and international events.”
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