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 Civil Defense makes Kingdom safer place to live

Updated 24 min 43 sec ago
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Saudi Civil Defense makes Kingdom safer place to live

JEDDAH: Collaboration between Saudi universities, research centers and the country’s Civil Defense is helping to make the Kingdom a safer place to live.
Col. Abdul Aziz Al-Zahrani, the general director of the Jeddah department of Civil Defense, said “strong” cooperation on safety and civil protection matters was a vital part of risk management work taking place in the Kingdom.
Speaking during a press conference to announce details of next month’s Intersec Saudi Arabia 2019 trade fair for the security, safety, and fire protection sector, Al-Zahrani said the General Directorate of Civil Defense had spent many productive years sharing knowledge with Saudi education and research institutions.
He said research data helped in producing risk assessments and finding solutions to natural, industrial and domestic safety issues. “The Civil Defense takes advantage of these studies to help keep people and properties safe.”
Al-Zahrani added: “Take me for instance. I am a graduate of King Abdul Aziz University where I obtained my Ph.D. in geological and environmental engineering. I have worked on risk assessment on the coast of the Makkah region. We were able to produce geological maps that helped to locate risky, low-risk and safe areas.”
The third edition of the Intersec exhibition will take place on April 14-16 at the Jeddah Center for Forums and Events with more than 150 exhibitors from 20 countries expected to attend.
The event aims to offer a platform to network, create and strengthen partnerships, share information, and keep up to date with the latest innovations driving the regional and global security, safety, and fire protection industries.
Organized by Messe Frankfurt-Middle East and Al-Harithy Company for Exhibitions (ACE) and supported by the General Directorate of Civil Defense along with other international government partners, trade associations, and non-profit institutions, Intersec will bring together key regulators, government authorities, solution providers and end-users to discuss strategies and collaborative approaches for security, safety and fire protection in the region.
The trade event will cover product groups including commercial security, information security, perimeter and physical security, homeland security and policing, fire and rescue, and health and safety.
Al-Zahrani said great strides had been taken in Saudi Arabia to protect the public from the dangers posed by unsafe appliances, and the Civil Defense had also increased the efficiency and effectiveness of fire and rescue services.