Saudi women set to enjoy football in stadium

Saudi women attend an event to celebrate the 87th annual National Day of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Sept. 23, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 26 December 2017
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Saudi women set to enjoy football in stadium

JEDDAH: The upcoming year 2018 will herald a new dawn for Saudi female football enthusiasts. For the first time in the history of the Kingdom, women will be allowed to enjoy a football match in a stadium.
The much-awaited match will take place between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad clubs at Riyadh’s King Fahd Stadium on Jan. 12.
The decision was first announced on Oct. 29, a month after the issuance of a royal decree lifting a ban on women driving. Riyadh’s King Fahd Stadium, Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City and Dammam’s Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium are the only stadiums that will be allowed to welcome family audiences.
Lina Al-Maeena, a Shoura member and director of Jeddah United (first women-only basketball team), told Arab News: “It’s a historic game, the first in which Saudi families can enter a stadium together... They are finally going to have activities and entertainment together where they’re not separated, where parents go with their kids and mothers and even grandmothers, where they can enjoy sports events specifically, together. It’s an opportunity for mothers to enjoy watching their children cheering, and for them and younger women to cheer as well. I really think it reinforces family values.”
Al-Maeena predicts a large audience. “Eventually there will be a gradual increase, but I’m very excited to see the number of attendees.”
Twitter is abuzz with excited female fans who cannot wait to experience cheering in person for their favorite teams for the very first time. Manal Qamash reacted to the news with a tweet saying, “YES! I can finally experience this!”
Shahad Ahmad promised to be “the very first female to step into that stadium.” Meanwhile, Nada Al-Ghamdi from Jeddah, expressed her disappointment at the game taking place in Riyadh and said: “Why’s the game not taking place in Jeddah? I really wanted to attend.”
Many male fans displayed their displeasure at the prospect of sharing stadiums with families, referring to the traditional reasons, and their belief that football is a masculine sport. In response, Al-Maeena said: “The first thing that comes to my mind is that the holy land we live in is a non-segregated environment; when we go around the Ka’aba and when we perform Sa’i, it’s a mixed environment. When you look at the core pillars of Islam, in the fifth one, Al-Hajj, there is no segregation.” She added that as long as everyone maintains decency and modesty, there should be no obstacles.
“I’m sure the government has already mentioned its preparations with security reinforcements just to make sure everything is under control, from entrances to public services. When they announced the news, they said it would take place in 2018 to give them time to implement the new changes. The facilities are well prepared and developed as is, but of course, some changes were needed to accommodate families.”


Saudi Arabia to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

Riyadh hosts the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum in April with its focus on investment opportunities in the urban heritage. (Reuters)
Updated 10 min 33 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

  • forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage
  • Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage hosts the forum each year in a different part of the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Saudi capital will host the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum (NUHF) next April to coincide with World Heritage Day, with its focus on investment opportunities in urban heritage.

“The four-day National Built Heritage Forum will be launched in Riyadh on April 15,” said Majed Alshadeed, a spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), on Thursday, adding that the forum will culminate on April 18, World Heritage Day. World Heritage Day is celebrated every year on April 18 with the aim of preserving the human heritage and recognizing the efforts of the relevant organizations in the field.

Organized by SCTH under the umbrella of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program, the 6th forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage.

The forum will look at developing business models in the management and development of — and investment in — urban heritage sites, as well as the development of crafts and handicrafts.

The heritage forum is organized each year by the SCTH in a different province in collaboration with the relevant governorates, municipalities and local universities, following the recommendations of the first International Conference for Urban Heritage in the Islamic Countries, which was held in Riyadh in 2010.

The first session of the NUHF was organized in Makkah province, the second in the Eastern Province, the third in Madinah province, the fourth in Asir province and the fifth in Al-Qassim province.

Next year’s forum seeks to invest the expertise, knowledge and experience that the SCTH has gained and transfer it to the four economic sectors working in urban heritage. These sectors are construction, restoration and contracting, site operation, human resources development, and services and industries related to urban heritage.

The forum will include the distribution of prizes to the projects winning the Prince Sultan bin Salman Urban Heritage Awards, exhibitions, scientific sessions, workshops and business meetings with Saudi and international experts and consultants to discuss investment opportunities in urban heritage. There will also be a specialized expo for companies and institutions working in the sectors of the economics of architectural heritage, restoration and engineering consultancy.