Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time

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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Arab News photo by Mohammed Manei)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: Alekhbariya TV)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Twitter)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: Alekhbariya TV)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (AN photo by Mohammed Manei)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (AN photo by Mohammed Manei)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: Alekhbariya TV)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (AN photo by Mohammed Manei)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: Alekhbariya TV)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: Alekhbariya TV)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: Alekhbariya TV)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: Alekhbariya TV)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: Alekhbariya TV)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: @SaudiProject)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: @SaudiProject)
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time. (Courtesy: @SaudiProject)
Updated 12 January 2018
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Saudi Arabia stadiums welcome female football fans for first time

RIYADH: Female fans were allowed to attend football matches for the first time in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
The first match that women attended was the Al-Ahli versus Al-Batin on Friday Jan. 12.
The Saudi Arabian government announced the lifting of the ban late last year and as a result, women now be able to enjoyed Saudi Professional League matches. The government directive said women would also be able to attend a second match on the following day (Jan. 13) and a third one on January 18.

Women from across the vast Gulf kingdom may be able to take advantage of this new freedom as the first match will be held in the capital Riyadh, the second in Jeddah on the Red Sea and the third in the eastern city of Dammam.
The move is Saudi Arabia's first social reform planned for this year granting women greater rights.
To prepare for the change, the kingdom has designated "family sections" in the stands for women, separated by barriers from the male-only crowd. The stadiums have also been fitted with female prayer areas, restrooms and smoking areas, as well as separate entrances and parking lots for female spectators.
The General Sports Authority is preparing the surrounding squares in the King Abdullah Sports City (Al-Jawhara) with food trucks and a number of sporting and social events to create a distinctive social environment before the matches.
A host of events taking place whilst families enter the King Abdullah Sports City stadium.

The game was scheduled to kick off at 8:00pm, but enthusiasm for the historic encounter began well before the kick-off.
Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old football fan from Jeddah, said she was proud and looking forward to the match.
"This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future. I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change," she told AFP.

Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, called Friday a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates (in) ongoing fundamental changes."
I am proud and extremely happy for this development," she said.

Noura Bakharji, another Jeddah resident, said she always felt bitter when her brothers came back from stadiums to tell her about the excitement of watching football matches in person.
"I always watched games on TV while my brothers went to the stadiums... I asked myself repeatedly 'Why I can't go?'" she told AFP. "Today, things have changed. It's a day of happiness and joy."
Hours before the game, Saudi clubs were encouraging women to attend through tweets on social media.
Some clubs are offering special abayas — traditional head-to-toe robes for Saudi women — in team colours.
State-owned Saudi Airlines announced prizes of free tickets for five families who want to travel between cities to watch games.

Arab News spoke to local Al-Ahli supporter Rayan, who said: “Our whole family supports Al-Ittihad except me and my sister — we support Al-Ahli. We always try to watch the games together. I always feel bad leaving to watch some games in the stadium knowing that she can’t experience this special atmosphere. I always said ‘one day’ and now this is that day. It makes me so happy and proud that she can finally experience the excitement and drama of watching these games firsthand.”
Sara, a recent Saudi graduate from Northeastern University, stated the event was one of the first signs of increased female participation in sporting events and activities. “This is wonderful for us (Saudi) women, and I am sure there is more to come. A diverse and inclusive society will only serve as the base to positive progression for Vision 2030.”
Another Saudi woman that attended the game lent her voice. Lana, a fitness instructor based in Jeddah, said: “This was my first football match that I’ve ever attended, and It has been such a fun experience. I’ll always remember tonight. I salute our government for granting us these rights, and I can’t wait to attend again next week.”


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize the launch of the Qiddiya Project

Updated 24 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize the launch of the Qiddiya Project

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize on Wednesday the launch of the “Qiddiya” Project which is the new entertainment, sports and cultural destination in the Kingdom.
The project will be built in Al-Giddiya area, some 40 km west of the capital, Riyadh.
The foundation stone ceremony of will be attended by a host of local and international officials, as well as a number of decision-makers, major investors and representatives of the regional and international companies, marking the launch of the project’s formal infrastructure. The first phase will be completed by 2022.
In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Fahd bin Abdullah Tounsi, Secretary General of the Foundation Council of the Qiddiya Project of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) said that the inauguration of this vital project is a real translation of the aspirations of the Kingdom’s wise leadership and its relentless efforts to develop mega projects that would contribute effectively to achieve many direct and indirect economic returns, and to advance sustainable development for the benefit of the homeland and the citizen, in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
“About two-thirds of the Kingdom’s population is under the age of 35. There is a great need for Qiddiya Project to provide them with entertainment. The project will save about $30 billion, which will be used to develop the domestic economy and create new job opportunities for Saudi youths,” he added.
For his part, Michael Reininger, Chief Executive of Qiddiya, said, “we are delighted to be a key contributor to boost the Kingdom’s economic development and investment, not only for the entertainment industry but also to projects that will develop the capabilities the young Saudi people.”