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Sun 29 Jan 2012 01:02 PM

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Game on: Saudi to open up football stadiums to women

New-look stadium to have private cabins, balconies for female fans in first move of its kind

Game on: Saudi to open up football stadiums to women
Football is a significant part of Saudi Arabias culture

Women in
Saudi Arabia
will be allowed to attend football matches for the first time in
the conservative Gulf state, with the launch of newly-designed stadiums.

Officials
in the kingdom said women will be able to watch matches at the Jeddah stadium after
specially constructed private cabins and balconies are completed in 2014, local
media reported.

“Sources
close the stadium said more than 15 percent of the facility will be allocated
for families when the facility is fully completed in 2014,” the Arabic daily Al
Sharq said, quoting unnamed sources.

“Besides
families, female journalists and photographers will also be admitted into the
stadium and will be allocated exclusive places away from male journalists so
they can cover local and international events,” it added.

Saudi
Arabia, home to Islam's two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, applies the
austere Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam. Liberal activists have long called for
greater rights for women who cannot travel or work without the written permission
of a male relative. The oil rich Gulf state also bans women from driving.

While
the ruling Al Saud family has always maintained a close relationship with the
ultra conservative Wahhabi clerics, the government is pushing for reforms that
give women more rights.

King
Abdullah in September announced a “cautious reform” in which he gave women the
right to vote
and stand for election in future local elections and to join the
advisory Shura council.

“Because we refuse to marginalise women in society in
all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our
senior ulama [clerics] and others … to involve women in the Shura council as
members, starting from the next term,” he said in a speech.

Saudi
clerics were reportedly upset they were not consulted about the move prior to
the announcement. “I wish the king did not say that he consulted senior clerics...
When I heard the speech and what was said about consultation, without a doubt I
had no knowledge of it before hearing the king's speech,” Sheikh Saleh Al
Lohaidan, one of the kingdom’s most senior clerics said in October.

layla 7 years ago

That is wonderful news. I am glad they are considering women as humans not just mindless baby makers and maids.