Saudi women prepare to attend football matches as ban on entry to stadiums lifted next week

Image for illustrative purposes only. Saudi Arabia's contingent takes part in the athletes parade during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. (REUTERS)
Updated 06 January 2018

Saudi women prepare to attend football matches as ban on entry to stadiums lifted next week

JEDDAH: Saudi women expressed excitement as the lifting of a ban which previously prevented them from entering football stadiums takes effect next week. 
Saudi government announced the lifting of the ban late last year and as a result, women will be treated to three upcoming Saudi Professional League matches in which six major sports clubs will play.
Three stadiums will host the first matches in 2018, beginning with a match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Stadium in the same round on Friday January 12, while women will also be able to attend Al-Hilal’s match against Al-Ittihad in the 17th round on Saturday January 13, and finally, the 18th round on Thursday January 18 between Al-Ittifaq and Al-Faisali.
The Saudi General Sports Authority (GSA) has approved three stadiums to host women in the coming matches in early 2018, including King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, King Abdullah Stadium in Jeddah and Prince Mohammad bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam, Riyadh Daily quoted Abdul Rahman Al-Qadheeb, undersecretary of technical affairs and investment at the GSA, as saying.
Special arrangements have been allocated for women, where a work plan has been prepared, especially at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium, which witnessed a number of family events in 2017, thus making preparations easier for its staff.
The decision allowing women in stadiums was first announced on October 29, a month after a historical royal decree lifting the ban on women driving.
According to Al-Qadheeb, there will be an assessment in the first phase of the three stadiums and then the remaining stadiums will be added gradually as it is difficult for the rest of the stadiums which lack the necessary expertise unlike said three stadiums.
He added that companies sponsoring local competitions, as well as marketing and investment companies need to participate collectively in this step.
“After the evaluation process, all the negatives and positives will be studied and then will be circulated to all stadiums,” Al-Qadheeb said. “There are arrangements for all three stadiums to determine the final settings.”
Regarding entrances, he explained that “there will be a number of ways in which women will be granted access to the matches, including the ticketing system which will be invested in, and the electronic gates which will be controlled and transferred between the three stadiums as well as other places on the field in case the stadium is crowded. So, we have solutions in the authority’s stadiums or even football clubs, but the beginning (games) will be in stadiums and then clubs according to available possibilities.”

KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Updated 25 April 2019

KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

  • Al-Rabeeah: We have no hidden agenda in Syria and we work through international organizations

BEIRUT: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, signed on Wednesday seven agreements with Beirut and international and civil organizations operating in Lebanon to implement relief projects targeting Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as the most affected host communities in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who participated in the symposium at the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut to sign the agreements, praised the strong Saudi-Lebanese relations, which have existed for decades, and stressed Lebanon’s keenness to ensure their permanence and development.

He said: “The meetings Al-Rabeeah has held with different Lebanese political and religious authorities over the past two days during his visit to Lebanon, under the guidance of King Salman, indicate the Saudi leadership’s true desire to deepen the fraternal ties with the Lebanese, support Lebanon’s unity, independence, sovereignty and coexistence formula, and protect its existence from the repercussions of all the fires, crises and interventions that plague many countries.”

During the symposium, which was attended by a large group of political, religious and social figures, Al-Rabeeah called on the international donor community to shoulder more responsibility.

Addressing the implementing bodies, he said: “It is time to reconsider your working mechanisms in order to develop them and improve procedures to avoid negative impacts.”

“What I mean by reconsidering working processes is that there is a need to work professionally and skillfully because there are not many resources, and we must eliminate bureaucracy and speedily make the most of resources,” Al-Rabeeah told Arab News.

He stressed the importance of developing a close partnership between the donor and the implementer of projects, highlighting that KSRelief’s work is subject to international and regional oversight mechanisms as well as its own internal control mechanisms.

“We have two strategic partners, and when agreements are signed with the recipients of assistance, this means accepting oversight terms,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Saudi Arabia supports the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and so is the case for Yemen.”

“Saudi Arabia has supported peaceful dialogues, which restore security and stability,” he said. “In order for this to happen in Syria, we support the efforts of the United Nations and implement (as KSRelief) relief programs inside Syria. We also have major programs and we count on the UN to ensure a safe return for Syrian refugees.”

On the Syrian regions in which KSRelief is implementing its programs and the difficulties faced, Al-Rabeeah told Arab News: “We have nothing to do with military or religious matters, and wherever there is security, we work. We also work through the UN and the international organizations inside Syria, and we do not have any hidden agenda in this field.”

He stressed that “participating in rebuilding Syria requires security and stability, and the Saudi leadership hopes for a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Until this is achieved, the relief work will continue and won’t cease.”

Al-Rabeeah announced that KSRelief is implementing a quality program to rehabilitate recruited children in Yemen alongside its education, protection, health and environment projects.

“There are those who recruit children to fight in Yemen, violating all humanitarian laws. Our center rehabilitates them so that they are not used as terrorist tools in the future,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 has given relief work its share, especially in terms of volunteering programs. “We have great examples involved in the field,” he said.

Among the signed agreements was one with the Lebanese High Relief Commission (HRC) to carry out a project to cover the food needs of Lebanese families.

Chairman of Lebanon’s High Relief Commission Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair told Arab News that the agreement targets distributing 10,000 food rations to orphans, widows and destitute families in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in Lebanon. “This project is encouraging and gives hope to people,” he said.

Khair said that there are 100,000 people in need in Bab Al-Tabbaneh district alone, pledging to commit to transparency during the implementation of the project. “It is not a question of sectarian balance; we are focused on those who are most in need,” he said.

The signed agreements include one for repairing, equipping, and operating the Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Center for Dialysis at the Makassed General Hospital, an agreement with the UNHCR worth $5 million to implement a project for assisting the most affected Syrian families for six months, an agreement to support Souboul Assalam Association in Akkar (northern Lebanon), an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to implement a project worth $3.8 million to cover the needs of Syrian families that are below the poverty line for a year, and an agreement with UNRWA to cover the medical needs and treatment of cancer and multiple sclerosis in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: “The challenge facing UNRWA after the reduction of its budget is maintaining the operation of its 715 schools in the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner for us, and owing to its help, we will be able to help cancer and multiple sclerosis patients,” he said.