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.”


Jeddah has never been greener, but authorities say their work has just begun

These green spaces have become a recreational resource for residents in Jeddah. (SPA)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Jeddah has never been greener, but authorities say their work has just begun

  • Jeddah mayor: The secretariat has signed partnership agreements with the private sector and institutions for initiatives to develop parks, buildings and pedestrian walkways
  • The city has organized a number of cultural and recreational events for visitors to the parks

RIYADH: Five hundred parks in Jeddah have contributed to softening the public face presented to the world and its visitors by the Bride of the Red Sea. 

These green breathing spaces have become a resource for Jeddah locals and visitors alike. They are vital pieces in the patchwork of green spaces that are estimated to cover 20 million square meters.

Jeddah municipality has a commitment to increasing green spaces in Jeddah through garden and reforestation projects throughout the province.

The mayor of Jeddah province, Saleh Ali Al-Turki, said that the Secretariat is in the process of improving and developing the parks and increasing green spaces. 

He added that the secretariat has signed partnership agreements with the private sector and institutions for initiatives to develop parks, buildings and pedestrian walkways.

Al-Turki stressed that public parks are important elements to improve the environment and the quality of life. As such it is important to foster partnerships between the public and private sectors to develop this environmental element.

These efforts are supported by the work of Friends of Jeddah Parks, within the framework of social responsibility and with a strong partnership with governmental bodies and donors to create and care for public gardens and open spaces and benefit from them while promoting recreational, cultural, sporting, health and intellectual activities and contributing to bond with members of society.

Park expansion

The province of Jeddah has managed to expand the establishment of such parks throughout the province’s neighborhoods, taking into account the geographical scope and urban sprawl, amid strengthening the role of the private sector and civil society institutions in supporting, caring for and establishing public parks in the context of social responsibility. 

It has also succeeded in organizing a number of cultural and recreational events for the parks’ visitors, and maintaining them as a social forum for a number of families and children.

There is ongoing work to establish short- and medium-term plans to improve the parks, in addition to expanding green spaces throughout the province through implementing additional projects so that these resources are able to cater for a large number of visitors and citizens. The parks need to be maintained as social, recreational, sporting and environmental outlets.

In addition to the parks, there are recreational clubs and centers, which provide children, young people and families with playgrounds, green spaces, playgrounds, and paved areas.

Dhaban Marine Park, which is located 40km north of Jeddah, is part of the government’s initiative to provide appropriate environmental and recreational places for Jeddah’s citizens and visitors. It covers an area of 110,000 square meters along the waterfront. It is equipped with recreational facilities and football fields for children, in addition to a mosque, pathways, a versatile football field, children’s games, sandy beaches and a fishing area that includes tools and sporting equipment on the pedestrian’s walkway.

Best in Jeddah

The park’s landscaping and green areas cover 38,000 square meters with 312 palm trees, 5,000 trees and bushes, children’s play areas for 25 different sports. 

As one of the best parks in Jeddah, this is a beautiful recreational area where all family members can spend a special day and young people can benefit in a space dedicated for them. It also offers a sandy beach equipped for fishing.

Jeddah’s landmark Al-Saif Beach covers an area of 500 square kilometers and stretches over three kilometers. It was created as part of the initiative to develop the southern corniche to serve a large segment of citizens. It is equipped with public utilities to attract tourists and become an outlet for families and visitors of Jeddah.

Al-Saif Beach is a maritime façade that attracts all segments of society with its infrastructure, recreational areas and green spaces, family areas and children’s play areas. Not only does it offer public facilities such as automated smart toilets, parking lots and specialized prayer areas it also has a sandy beach for beach ball games.