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 04 October 2019

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.”


Preventive protocols issued as Saudi Arabia moves to relax curfew further

Updated 30 May 2020

Preventive protocols issued as Saudi Arabia moves to relax curfew further

RIYADH: As Saudi Arabia moved closer to Phase 2 of the gradual relaxation of coronavirus lockdown rules, the Ministry of Interior announced precautionary measures and preventive protocols for several sectors to follow.

The preventive protocols, prepared by the Ministry of Health,  covers the period from 8 Shawwal to 28 Shawwal 1441 in the Hijri calendar, corresponding to May 31 to June 20, 2020 in the Gregorian calendar.

A ministry official said the protocols are provided for mosques;  the public; petroleum, petrochemical and gas and other industries; malls and retail centers, home delivery service, among others.

The preventive protocols can be found at: https://covid19awareness.sa/archives/5460.

The MOI urged all citizens, expatriates and concerned authorities "to implement these procedures and abide by their provisions in order to preserve the safety of all".

Also on Saturday, the acting minister of economy and planning, Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan, said the gradual lifting of the curfew "represents a new stage in the face of the global pandemic crisis and towards a gradual return to economic activities in the Kingdom to its normal levels."
 
"The decisions were taken after continuous coordination between the Ministry of Health and the concerned authorities, relying on a focused plan that seeks to balance between procedures for reopening economic activities and maintaining the stability of health and social conditions," said Jadaan, who is also the Kingdom's minister of finance.

Al-Jadaan highlighted that the government has increased – during the last period through the state’s general budget – spending on urgent and necessary requirements to face the crisis.

It has significantly strengthened the financial allocations for the Health and related services sector.

The government also launched urgent support initiatives to mitigate the impact on the private sector, supporting the economy and to preserve the jobs of citizens in economic establishments, he said in a statement carried by the SPA.